The highest prosecutor in Marion County, Kan., stated on Wednesday that there was not adequate proof to help a raid on an area newspaper final week, and that the entire units and supplies obtained within the search can be returned.
Joel Ensey, the Marion County legal professional, stated in a press release that, in mild of the inadequate proof, he directed native regulation enforcement to return the seized materials.
Law enforcement officials and county sheriff’s deputies searched the newspaper’s office, the house of its proprietor and editor and the house of a metropolis councilwoman on Friday — gathering computer systems, cellphones and different supplies. This can be very uncommon for regulation enforcement authorities in america to look and seize the instruments to provide journalism.
The searches have been a part of an investigation into how The Document obtained and dealt with a doc containing details about an area restaurateur — and whether or not the restaurant proprietor’s privateness was violated within the course of. The episode threw a nationwide highlight on Marion, a city of about 2,000 folks situated an hour north of Wichita.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, an company that aids regulation enforcement statewide, stated in a press release that the investigation would proceed.
The search generated blowback from First Modification specialists, who condemned the raid and urged native regulation enforcement officers to return the journalists’ tools. On Sunday, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press despatched a letter to the Marion Police Division expressing concern that the raid violated federal regulation. The letter was signed by greater than 30 newsrooms, together with The New York Occasions, and press advocacy organizations.
Joann Meyer, a co-owner of the paper, died on Saturday. Her son, Eric Meyer, the newspaper’s writer, stated that she was in shock after the raid, including that she had bother sleeping. Ms. Meyer, 98, refused meals, and stored asking Mr. Meyer whether or not anybody would put an finish to the conflict with authorities. She died midsentence.
Mr. Meyer stated the coroner had concluded that the stress of the searches was a contributing think about her dying.
Mr. Ensey, the county legal professional, was in court docket Wednesday and never obtainable to remark.
The search of the newspaper’s workplace got here lower than every week after Kari Newell, an area restaurant proprietor, accused The Document of illegally acquiring a authorities report about steps to revive her drivers license after which sharing it with a metropolis councilwoman.
Mr. Meyer has stated for the reason that raid that he and his newspaper, which didn’t publish something in regards to the doc it obtained, had performed nothing improper and that the newspaper didn’t share the doc with the councilwoman.
Mr. Meyer, 69, has had a protracted profession in journalism, working as a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a professor on the College of Illinois. The Document, which has seven staff and a circulation of about 4,000, is understood for its fiery editorials about native officers and uncommonly aggressive reporting for a paper of its dimension. However additionally it is a small-town paper with small-town issues: Final week’s high story was a few 10-year-old who’s studying to play guitar at an area senior heart.
On Wednesday, in an interview at The Document’s workplace, he stated he was vindicated by the county legal professional’s determination, including that he was grateful that the paper’s units have been being returned. He criticized the county legal professional and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for releasing statements in regards to the determination earlier than telling him.
He proudly held up a print copy of this week’s version, which workers members had stayed up late into the night time to provide due to the lacking units. “SEIZED … however not silenced” learn the highest headline, in 200-point font.
“You can’t let bullies win, and ultimately a bully will cross the road to the purpose that it turns into so egregious that different folks come round and help you,” Mr. Meyer stated.
Bernard J. Rhodes, a lawyer who represents The Document, known as the county’s determination to withdraw its search warrant and return the seized objects “a promising first step.”
“Nonetheless, it does nothing to recompense the paper for the violation of its First Modification rights when the search was performed,” he added, “and most regrettably, doesn’t return Joann Meyer.”
Mr. Meyer stated the final 24 hours of his mom’s life was terrible, however that she would have loved the help The Document has obtained — 2,000 extra folks have subscribed to the paper in simply the previous few days — amid its ongoing dispute with regulation enforcement businesses.
“She would have preferred to be considered nearly a martyr for the trigger,” he stated.