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Marion County, city of Marion hire legal counsel following raids

Marion County Record Search Warrant.png
Posted at 1:10 PM, Aug 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-28 19:53:19-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Marion County and the city of Marion have obtained legal counsel following the raids on the Marion County Record newspaper and two homes.

On Monday, the KSHB 41 I-Team spoke with Jeff Kuhlman, with Watkins Calcara, Chtd. out of Great Bend, Kansas, who confirms he now represents the county.

Bernie Rhodes, attorney for the newspaper, previously stated he plans to file a lawsuit.

The I-Team also learned the city sent a claim to Marion's insurance company regarding the matter.

The city clerk did not provide any other details beyond saying the city's insurance company may have hired an attorney on the city's behalf.

The I-Team was able to confirm the city hired Jennifer Hill and Ed Keeley, with McDonald Tinker of Wichita.

In an email, Hill said McDonald Tinker was retained on Aug. 17.

The city's decision to hire Hill and Keeley comes one day after Joel Ensey, Marion County attorney, withdrew the search warrant and ordered the court to return the seized items, citing insufficient evidence of a crime.

Last week, the I-Team reported the Marion County Sheriff's Department kept a download of the newspaper's computer data despite a court order to return all items seized during the three raids.

Rhodes sent a letter to the county attorney threatening to hold the sheriff in contempt for violating the order if the data wasn't turned over.

Rhodes reached an agreement with Joel Ensey, Marion County attorney, and the sheriff to provide a copy of the data and destroy the device that was used to download the info by Friday.

However, Rhodes told the I-Team on Monday the county has not turned over the data due to a delay stemming from obtaining legal counsel.

Rhodes spoke with Kuhlman, the attorney for the county, and is expecting to receive the data soon.

In a phone call with the I-Team, Kuhlman would not provide details on the case.

The I-Team has requested records from both the county and the city regarding the hiring of both firms.