Published on Friday, 19 November 2010 11:08
WBBM-TV reporter Jay Levine was cleared of a charge and found "not guilty" in a seemingly-frivolous 2nd degree assault charge filed by wannabe media star, failed politician and self-styled ultra-conservative pundit William J. Kelly.
The case stems from an incident on October 13 near the Columbus Day Parade. WBBM-TV's Jay Levine and WLS-TV's Charles Thomas were beginning a street-side interview with then-future Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, when Kelly and a cameraman purposely interrupted the two longtime Chicago journalists work, interrupting Emanuel's answers to their questions, heckling Emanuel and pushing Levine & Thomas from behind. After many moments of frustration caused by Kelly's antics, Levine yelled over his shoulder, "Let him finish or I'm gonna' deck you!", and then tried to go back to interviewing Emanuel.
Kelly, who buys one hour of airtime from WIND-AM each weekend to air a slanted political-themed show and infomercial for his websites, used the incident to gain media attention and brief fame. He spread a highly edited and politically slanted video of the incident via YouTube and conservative political blogs. To further his goal of attention, two days later he filed assault charges with the Chicago Police against Jay Levine. He also sought to have Jay Levine arrested, but that was rejected.
Levine was served and a court date was set for this morning at 9:00am at Branch Court 29 located at Belmont and Western in Chicago. Kelly had taken to his blogs, his infomercial radio show and his Facebook account urging his fans to fill the courtroom and stand when the case was called, as both a show of support for him and a way to disrupt the proceedings. A last minute change of court rooms and judges helped keep that situation down to a minimum.
After listening to both sides of the case and watching videos of the incident, Judge Geary Cull felt there was not a clear intent to harm by what Levine had said. Levine's use of the word "or" (as in "or
I'll gonna' deck you") also showed that the intent was only there if Kelly continued on with his disruptive and purposely annoying actions. In the judge's perception, Kelly was then given a choice to not continue those actions by the use of the word "or." Also, even though Kelly did indeed continue those disruptive actions, there was no contact of any kind between Levine and Kelly. At no time did Levine ever raise or even make a fist. At no time did Kelly ever seem in fear that he was going to get "decked." In Kelly's own video, he was smiling and trying to provoke Levine more after Levine made his "deck you" statement. By asking Levine repeatedly "Are you threatening me?" and "Is that a threat?", it showed that Kelly was not even sure if there was an intent to harm or not. The judge was able to easily render a "not guilty" verdict in favor of the defendant and dismiss the misdemeanor assault charge.
Kelly claimed on his Facebook page: "I was hoping for justice today... but justice was not to be found." After this loss, he is now considering suing Levine in a civil court.
Not wanting to give Kelly any additional publicity or attention, Jay Levine has not commented publicly on this case before or since the verdict that vindicated him.