A Kansas judge who authorized the “Gestapo-like” search of the Marion County Record has reportedly had two drunk driving offenses — raising questions about the potential impact on the attorney’s decision.
Judge Laura Viar signed an arrest warrant to allow a police raid on the newspaper over allegations that she illegally obtained information about DUI from a local business owner.
The eighth judiciary reportedly completed a program in 2012 following her own arrest for drunk driving in Coffey County — and then was arrested for drunk driving in Morris County seven months later.
In the latter incident, then-district attorney Laura Allen was driving a judge’s vehicle when she went off the road and crashed into a shed near the Council Grove football field, according to a 2012 report WIBW.
She also had her driver’s license revoked KWCH.
The warrant that Viar signed in the Marion County Record case has since been withdrawn due to “insufficient evidence,” Marion County Prosecutor Joel Ensey announced Wednesday.
Ensey said the warrant “failed to establish a legally sufficient connection between this alleged crime and the locations searched and the items seized.”
The newspaper’s computers, cellphones and reporting materials were hauled out of the publisher’s office and home on Friday. A reporter also suffered a finger injury after a police officer snatched a mobile phone from her hand.
Eric Meyer, owner of Marion County Record, whose home was also searched, said his mother, Joan Meyer, 98, a veteran journalist who also lived there, died of stress the day after the burglary – and was present before the raid been in good health.
The warrant was issued after restaurant owner Kari Newell, 46, accused the newspaper of illegally obtaining information about her drinking while under the influence that could overturn her application for a liquor license.
An unknown person had leaked the documents to both the newspaper and Deputy Mayor Ruth Herbel, which show Newell had been drinking while under the influence and was driving without a license.
However, the Marion County Record never released the story, instead alerting police and implying that someone related to Newell’s ex-husband was involved in the revelation.
Meyer said that while the newspaper is open to cooperating with police, officers have never been in touch or asked for the document.
It also became known that the newspaper was investigating Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody, who joined the department in June after leaving a force in Missouri earlier in the year. The Marion County Record investigated allegations of sexual misconduct against Cody.
The newspaper’s equipment has since been returned.
Investigating the newspaper raid, Meyer said he found it “a little suspicious.” A probable cause affidavit was filed three days after a search warrant was served.
Meyer also laughed at officers’ failure to seize Newell’s DUI documents that lay open during the raid.
“It was on my desk next to the computer they confiscated. They didn’t take it,” he said CNN.
Meyer suspects the raid was allegedly prompted by the newspaper’s investigation into Cody — and not Newell’s DUI information.
“It’s just speculation, curiosities about what’s going on here,” the journalist said.
As for the newspaper, which continues to appear — and even sees an influx of subscriptions — Meyer says the small team will carry on as it has always done.
“Right now, I feel like we’re not going to change anything about what we’re doing because we haven’t done anything wrong. And maybe we did something right,” Meyer told KWCH. “If someone wants to bully you, it has to mean they don’t want you to have anything. We don’t know what it is, but that makes the desire even greater.”
“You can’t let tyrants win,” Meyer told the Associated Press. “We have a staff that is very experienced, including me, and we don’t put up with any crap.”
With post wires.