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'Seized but not silenced': Newspaper publishes for 1st time since raid, equipment ordered to be returned

Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 22:07:05-04

MARION COUNTY, Kan. — As Marion County Record published its first newspaper since Friday's raid, the county attorney ordered the court to release the equipment seized from the newsroom and revoked the warrant.

It's a victory for Eric Meyer, publisher and owner of Marion County Record.

"Oh, we're celebrating," Meyer said.

On a Wednesday phone call with Bernie Rhodes, the paper's attorney, the KSHB 41 I-Team learned the search warrant was revoked and the court was ordered to return the seized equipment.

Moments after the I-Team broke the story, Joel Ensey, Marion County attorney, issued a written statement saying, "Insufficient evidence exists to establish a legally sufficient nexus between this alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized."

The newspaper's office and two homes were raided.

As the statement was issued, the newsrack on the sidewalk in front of Marion County Record, showcased the first published newspaper since the raid, which read in bold letters on the front page, "Seized...but not silenced."


"You cannot let bullies win," Meyer said. "And, eventually, a bully will cross a line to the point that it becomes so egregious that other people will come around and support you."

More than 2,000 additional subscriptions came into the newspaper since the raid.

Rhodes told the I-Team he has a forensics expert on standby who will check the equipment to ensure it wasn't viewed or tampered with.

Over the weekend, Rhodes issued a scathing letter to Marion County Chief of Police Gideon Cody, ordering him not to view the items seized.

By Monday, Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced it took over as lead agency of the case.

According to court records, Cody is the person who sought the warrant.

On Tuesday, the I-Team went to Marion Police Department to speak with Cody.

He immediately referred the I-Team to KBI, saying "Do you realize how angry KBI will be at me if I start talking about their case at this point?"

Rhodes called Cody a hypocrite in an interview with the I-Team saying Cody is the one who launched this search and seizure of the newsroom.

After the raids, Cody defended the action on the police department's Facebook page, saying, the justice system would be "vindicated."

While Meyer and his staff celebrate the positive change in direction, there are some messes that cannot be cleaned up.

"My mother died very frustrated by this," Meyer said.

Eric Meyer
Eric Meyer, the owner of the Marion County Record.

Joan Meyer, co-publisher of the newspaper, died one day after police raided her home. She was 98.

Marion County Record refused to back down to a "bully."

Meyer said being able to get published on time, despite all the hurdles of not having their equipment and documents, would make his mom happy.

"Although the last 24 hours of this world were very, very difficult and very frustrating for her, making her believe her whole life had been worthless, this is the type of thing she’d really like," he said.

Meyer also found peace Wednesday.

"I feel like my mother didn't die in vain," Meyer said.

Meyer's staff found two old Microsoft XP computers to get the job done.

The staff stayed awake until seven in the morning Wednesday, and napped for two hours before returning to work where they waited for the arrival of their newspapers.

Once the papers showed up, they placed labels with addresses on most of the copies to ship out.

Regular readers came through the door one by one to get their copy of this historic release.

"We've had absolutely nothing but grave difficulties in doing things," Meyer said. "But, team came together. The thing is, this was a worthwhile cause. If I couldn’t have gotten the newspaper, I’d have printed and hand written it on Post-it notes and taken it to every door in town. I think most of the rest of our staff would’ve too. It just was that important we not be deterred by something like this."