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Kansas Reporter Sues Officials, City Over Raid On Newspaper

A reporter for a weekly Kansas newspaper that police raided last year filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against local officials, saying the raid caused her physical and mental health problems. Marion County Record reporter Phyllis Zorn is seeking $950,000 in damages from the city of Marion, its former mayor, its former police chief, its interim police chief, the Marion County Commission, the county sheriff and a former sheriff’s deputy, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuit calls them “co-conspirators” who deprived her of press and speech freedoms and the protection from unreasonable police searches guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Officers raided the newspaper last Aug. 11 as well as the home of Publisher Eric Meyer, seizing equipment and personal cellphones. Then-Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody said he was investigating whether the newspaper committed identity theft or other crimes in accessing a local restaurant owner’s state driving record.

The lawsuit alleges Cody was “infuriated” that the newspaper was investigating his background before he became Marion’s chief in May 2023. It also said Zorn was on Cody’s “enemies list” for laughing off a suggestion that they start a rival paper together. The raid put Marion, a town of 1,900 residents 150 miles southwest of Kansas City, at the center of a national debate over press freedom. Legal experts said it llikely violated state or federal law. Cody resigned in October. Meyer’s 98-year-old-mother, who lived with him, died the day after the raid, and he attributes her death to stress caused by it.


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