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Verdicts & Settlements

‘Marion County Recorder’ Journalist Secures $235k Settlement

— July 6, 2024

The lawsuit was filed after the Marion Police Department searched the offices of a local newspaper in a raid that appeared to have been politically motivated.

A former Marion County Record reporter has settled a federal lawsuit filed against the head of a Kansas police department, who attracted national headlines after raiding the Record’s offices.

According to The New York Times, the terms of the settlement were finalized on June 25. If approved, the agreement will provide an estimated $235,000 in compensation for former Record reporter Deb Gruver.

In her original complaint, Gruver recalled the course and circumstances of the Marion Police Department’s August 2023 raid on the Record’s offices. Defendant Gideon Cody, who was then the city’s police chief, purportedly demanded that Gruver surrender her personal cell phone—and then injured her hand when she indicated that she was going to place a call to the paper’s publisher, Eric Meyer.

Meyer has since said that body-camera footage obtained during discovery corroborates Gruver’s claims, and that Cody can be heard seeming to suggest that Gruver’s hand injury “made his day.”

Cody, adds the Times, had obtained a search warrant for the Record’s offices less than hour before the raid was staged. The department justified the searches by saying that they were conducting an investigation into how the paper had obtained certain legal documents.

However, the Record said that it had neither published any of the documents nor publicly identified the name of the informant who had provided the information.

Less than a week after the raid, Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey ordered Cody to return most of the devices and materials taken, saying that the search had been conducted without probable cause.

Handcuffs in front of gavel. Image via Photo credit: George Hodan. Listed as public domain.

Cody resigned from his position as Marion’s police chief last October.

The terms of the settlement guarantee state that the City of Marion will pay Gruver a one-time sum of $235,000 in exchange for Cody’s name being removed from the complaint.

Gruver will continue litigating other claims against Marion and Marion officials.

The New York Times notes that several other Recorder officials—including its publisher, Eric Meyer—have also filed lawsuits against local law enforcement.

Meyes, for instance, told the Times that he filed suit “to deter the next crazed cop from threatening democracy the way Chief Cody did.”

“The last thing we want is to bankrupt the city or county, but we have a duty to democracy and to countless news organizations and citizens nationwide to challenge such malicious and wanton violations of the First and Fourth Amendments and federal laws limiting newsroom searches,” Meyer said.

Meyer suggested that the lawsuit’s claims have resonated with people across the country, and have attracted support from both sides of the political spectrum.

“One of the things we’ve seen out of this is that the people who have responded to us have come from across the political spectrum,” Meyer said. “There aren’t too many things in this world right now that bring Democrats and Republicans together.”


$235,000 Settlement Is Reached in Police Raid of a Kansas Newspaper

After historic raid, former Marion County Record reporter settles her part of lawsuit

‘Duty to democracy’: Kansas newspaper files lawsuit after police raided the newsroom

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