Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 9:06 am
Judge: Secret court hearing over sheriff wrong
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BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A supervisory judge in southwestern Illinois says it wasn't appropriate for a colleague to exclude the media from a hearing in which public indecency charges against a sheriff were dropped.
St. Clair County Associate Judge Julie Katz threw out the case against Perry County Sheriff Keith Kellerman after meeting Tuesday in her chambers with attorneys for both sides as reporters waited in the courtroom.
Kellerman was accused of a sex act with a man outside a Caseyville tavern in 2011.
Chief Judge John Baricevic tells the Belleville News-Democrat reporters should have been allowed in Katz's chambers during the hearing. He says he's talked to Katz, 'and it won't happen again.'
An Illinois Press Association attorney says the case's private resolution may violate constitutional rights of openness to reporters.