The Marion County Record, a newspaper from Kansas police raid Last week, the county’s top prosecutor said Wednesday, taking back its equipment from local law enforcement.
Marion County Attorney Joel Anse said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to justify the search of The Marion County Records and the seizure of its reporters’ equipment.
“Consequently, I have submitted a proposed order asking the court to release the seized evidence,” he added. “I have asked local law enforcement to return the seized material to the property owners.”
Police and County Sheriff’s Deputies newspaper office raided, the home of its owner and editor and the home of a city council woman on Friday – collecting computers, cellphones and other materials. In the United States it is extremely rare for law enforcement officers to search and seize equipment for the production of journalism.
The search was part of an investigation into how The Record obtained and handled a document containing information about a local restaurant owner – and whether the restaurant owner’s privacy was violated in the process.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, an agency that assists law enforcement across the state, said in a statement that the investigation would continue.
The discovery shocked First Amendment experts, who condemned the raid and urged local law enforcement officials to return the journalists’ equipment.
Joan MayerThe co-owner of the newspaper passed away on Saturday. His son, the newspaper’s publisher, Eric Meyer, said that the coroner had concluded that the stress of the searches was a contributing factor in his death.
Bernard J. Rhodes, an attorney representing The Record, described the county’s decision to withdraw its search warrant and return the seized items as “a promising first step.”
He added, “However, while the search was conducted, it does nothing to compensate for the violation of the newspaper’s First Amendment rights,” and most regrettably, it does not return Joan Mayer. .
Mr Rhodes said a forensic expert would examine the assets seized by investigators. He said he had been assured that the devices had not been checked by investigators, but added that he wanted to be sure.