JOLIET, Illinois — Appellate court judges have reversed a lower-court ruling that had ordered a journalist to reveal the source of a leak in a northern Illinois double-murder case.
Monday's decision also does away with a contempt of court ruling against Joseph Hosey, a reporter and editor for the AOL news website Patch, who refused to reveal the source.
In his reporting about the January 2013 killings in Joliet, Hosey included details from confidential police reports that had not been publicly released. That prompted an attorney for one of the defendants to successfully seek a gag order as well as a motion to compel Hosey to identify his source.
The defense attorney argued that the leak compromised his client's chance for a fair trial.
Hosey asked the court to find him in contempt so he could appeal.
The appeals ruling reversed the earlier decisions.
The judges found that the threshold required to strip a reporter of protections under Illinois' "shield law" was not met. Specifically, it said, the circuit court erred when it granted that motion because "the identify of Hosey's source cannot be said to (be) relevant to a fact of consequence to the first-degree murder allegations."
The ruling also vacated fines attached to the earlier contempt order.
Three people have been convicted in the strangulation of 22-year-olds Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover. A fourth suspect is awaiting trial.
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