WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Reporter Faces Legal Trouble for Doing His Job

Oct 1, 2013

The Shop Talk panelists discuss the case of Patch.com reporter Joe Hosey.

Will County (IL) Judge Gerald Kinney had ordered Hosey to reveal who leaked details to him about a grisly double murder. Hosey refused to give up his source(s), so Kinney on September 20 found him in contempt, threatened him with an indefinite jail sentence, and ordered him to pay a daily fine of $300.

The punishment was stayed after Hosey’s attorney filed an appeal.

Organizations including the Illinois News Broadcasters Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists have come out in support of Hosey. The National Press Club also criticized the judge’s ruling.

The Shop Talk panelists agree that Hosey should be protected. They’re also appalled by a comment attributed to attorney Chuck Bretz, who is representing one of the four people accused in the killings. Bretz said no “legitimate” journalist need feel threatened by the judge’s order. The panelists consider Hosey a legitimate journalist and wonder how Bretz might go about defining which journalists are legitimate and which are not.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said Illinois has a shield law that is supposed to protect free speech, and said a change of venue is one remedy for defense attorney concerns about their clients receiving a fair trial.

Panelist Jasmine Garcia said that compelling a reporter to give up his/her sources sets a dangerous precedent for journalism. She thinks all journalists should be watching this case.