Controversy surrounds a recent police raid on the Marion County Record’s office in Marion, Kansas. Newly released materials including video footage and documents have intensified the debate. Here are the critical takeaways:
Affidavit Disclosed: The raid stemmed from an affidavit where Police Chief Gideon Cody claims that Record reporter Phyllis Zorn illegally downloaded a document detailing a local restaurant owner’s past DUI charges. Legal experts argue accessing publicly available records from a state website does not constitute “identity theft”.
Raid Footage Emerges: Security footage from the residence of newspaper publisher Eric Meyer and his mother, Joan Meyer, co-owner of the paper, has been released. In the video, police can be seen searching the home. Joan Meyer, 98, confronts the officers using a walker, asserting her objection to their presence. Tragically, she suffered a heart attack the next day.
Potential Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Joan Meyer’s estate might pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Attorney Bernie Rhodes, representing the estate, confirmed they are considering such a claim. Eric Meyer, her son and the newspaper’s editor, lamented the severe stress the raid caused his otherwise healthy mother.
Prosecutor’s Conflict of Interest: Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey, responsible for finalizing any charges, withdrew the search warrant citing “insufficient evidence.” Notably, Ensey’s family owns the Historic Elgin Hotel and its restaurant, Chef’s Plate. Kari Newell, the restaurant owner, seeks her liquor license and has accused the Record of illicitly accessing her DUI details, a charge the newspaper denies. The search warrant, interestingly, mentions Newell repeatedly. Some legal observers speculate Ensey might need to step away from the case due to potential conflicts.
Kari Newell’s Disputes with the Record: Kari Newell’s contentious history with the Record predates the recent identity theft allegations. Earlier this month, Newell reportedly ejected two journalists from a public forum held in her coffee shop. She later criticized the Record’s journalistic practices to CNN.
The unfolding events have brought national attention to Marion, highlighting potential conflicts of interest and concerns over journalistic freedom.