A Will County, Il., judge has found Patch Editor Joseph Hosey in criminal contempt, fined him $1,000 plus $300 a day and told him he could go to jail in three months if he does not reveal the identity of a confidential source, Patch Media reports. The company has appealed. Judge Gerald Kinney ruled that Hosey was in “minor direct criminal contempt” for not giving up the investigative reports that described in detail a grisly double murder in January, as well as the source of those documents.
“Illinois courts have upheld the shield law to protect reporters precisely from having to divulge confidential sources because of the chilling effect it can have on the important work reporters can do,” said his attorney, Kenneth Schmetterer. While in court, Schmetterer cited several previous cases where the term “friendly civil contempt” was used to describe a ruling, and all resulted in fines of varying amounts from $50 to $500. Attorney Chuck Bretz, representing a defendant in the murder case, who asked the judge to force Hosey to reveal his source, said he was “not sure if there is such a thing” as friendly civil contempt.