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Judge who signed off on Marion newsroom raid could soon have to explain decision

Magistrate Judge Laura Viar
Posted at 9:54 PM, Sep 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-06 23:01:32-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Magistrate Judge Laura Viar, who signed the warrant allowing police to raid a Marion newspaper, is being asked by the state to respond to a complaint.

On Aug. 17, Keri Strahler from Topeka, filed a complaint with Kansas Commission on Judicial Conduct.

In the complaint, Strahler writes about the raid on Marion County Record and asks the commission to take up the matter of Judge Viar signing the warrant.

"I humbly beg for your attention to Judge Laura Viar's mental capacity in her decision to seemingly circumvent federal and state law," Strahler said in the complaint.

You can read part of the complaint below:


Strahler pointed to laws that protect journalists from raids, including the Privacy Protection Act, which requires police to seek a subpoena unless someone is in danger of bodily harm or death.

Since the raid on Marion County Record, the newspaper owner's home and Marion vice mayor's home, legal experts have criticized the decision, citing a lack of evidence in the subpoenas submitted by Marion Chief of Police Gideon Cody.

The KSHB 41 News I-Team spoke with Strahler about the complaint.

"Something just didn't sit right," Strahler said. "I was concerned for her (Judge Viar) and those she serves."

Four days after filing the complaint, Doug Shima, secretary for the commission, assigned Strahler's complaint to an inquiry panel for consideration.

Shima wrote a panel will "determine whether your complaint contains facts that cause a reasonable person to believe that a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct may have been committed."

On Sept. 5, Shima responded again to Strahler saying the commission requested Judge Viar respond to the complaint.

The KSHB 41 News I-Team has reached out multiple times to Viar who has declined to comment.

According to Shima's response, Strahler's complaint was placed with members from Panel B.

Two members, Allen Glendenning and Susan Lynn, recused themselves from the matter, which is now on the commission's agenda meeting for Nov. 3.

The I-Team was unable to reach the commission after hours.

According to the commissions website, the commission is tasked with "helping the Supreme Court exercise its responsibility in judicial disciplinary matters. The Supreme Court established rules related to judicial conduct, which apply to all judges in Kansas."

As the public asks for accountability, Strahler told the I-Team, "Transparency is what I'm striving for with the complaint process."