Editor’s note: This is not an Idaho-centric story, but it points to the danger of overly aggressive law enforcement and judiciary overstepping their Constitutional authority, which we do see happening in Idaho. Lust for power and greed are inherent in all of mankind. Our Founders knew that, and the Constitution was designed as a cage to constrain those lusts for power. The population must be ever vigilant to keep those entrusted with certain delegated authority to stay within the boundaries defined by the law. It is also important that those with delegated authority operate within the spirit of the law – not look for loopholes to stretch their ability to flex their muscles.
In a disturbing action that appears to have violated judicial ethics, police in Marion County, Kansas raided the office of the county paper and the home of the owners – taking computers, phones, and anything having do with publishing their paper. The specific reason for the raid has not been made public.
Owners of the paper say they received an anonymous tip that a wealthy local restaurant owner had lost her license due to a DUI in 2008 yet has been driving every since.
Rather than publish the story, the paper passed along the information to the local police, who contacted the restaurant owner. Apparently, that information will now likely prevent the restaurant owner from getting a liquor license for her catering business – which made her none too happy.
Then, for some reason, local police contacted the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and also convinced a judge to sign off on a search warrant, authorizing police to confiscate items needed to run the newspaper. Amazingly, neither the police chief nor the state’s Attorney General are willing to discuss the matter.
The actions taken by law enforcement are raising questions about the Constitutionality of the raid. To enable a free press, journalists are supposed to be free from enduring such raids, except in cases of specific criminal activity by the journalists. Instead, if materials held by news agencies is desired by law enforcement, a subpoena is supposed to be issued.
Based on all available information, the owners of the newspaper did the ethical thing. Rather than publishing potentially false gossip, they passed along anonymous information to law enforcement so that they could verify the authenticity of the potential illegal activity and take appropriate action if needed.
According to the Kansas Reflector, the woman who lost her driver’s license in 2008 made a Facebook entry about the matter. The Kansas Reflector wrote:
[O]n her personal Facebook account, [the woman] said she “foolishly” received a DUI in 2008 and “knowingly operated a vehicle without a license out of necessity.”
“Journalists have become the dirty politicians of today, twisting narrative for bias agendas, full of muddied half-truths,” [she] wrote. “We rarely get facts that aren’t baited with misleading insinuations.”
She said the “entire debacle was brought forth in an attempt to smear my name, jeopardize my licensing through ABC (state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division), harm my business, seek retaliation, and for personal leverage in an ongoing domestic court battle.”
A few things to note about the woman’s Facebook entry.
- Apparently the woman willfully admits that chose to violate state law, saying she had a necessary reason to drive. At question: Can anyone unilaterally decide to ignore court orders and violate state law because they decide it’s necessary for them to do something?
- The woman is going through a divorce (which is made known in articles about the matter, as referenced in her closing phrase about the “ongoing domestic court battle”). It is surmised that her estranged husband has something to do with the anonymous notification to the newspaper.
- This restaurant owner appears to believe she is above the law in that she unilaterally decided she did not need to follow court orders.
- The woman appears to be upset that she won’t get an alcohol license for her catering basis.
- The woman also appears to be well connected, or police would have done something about her confessing that she was violating the law.
One must wonder how deep and how far the woman’s connections go, seeing as the newspaper appears to have done an ethical thing, yet are being accused of a crime, simply for passing along information to the appropriate authorities.
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