On Friday, August 11, 2023, the police in Marion County, Indiana, invaded the offices of a small local newspaper called The Marion County Record. Since its inception in 1869, this newspaper has released new issues weekly on Wednesdays. Eric Meyer, the paper’s publisher, and his mother, Joan Meyer, 98, were co-owners until Joan’s passing on August 12, 2023. Items from the mother and son’s shared house were also taken by the police. Eric Meyer thinks the police raid on his mother’s house and the subsequent chaos may have contributed to her death.
The county magistrate, Laura Viar, authorized the search and seizure of property by signing a search warrant. The warrant for the search said that identity theft was the cause for the search.
Kari Newell, the proprietor of a small eatery, claimed that the newspaper improperly obtained details about her driving history. Even though Eric Meyer confessed receiving information from an anonymous source, he said no action was taken on that data due to his belief that it had been illegally obtained. Instead, Newell’s frank disclosure of her driving record at a municipal council hearing was reported in The Reporter.
Eric Meyer thinks the raid may have had anything to do with journalists looking into the new police chief, Gideon Cody. Before being sworn in as chief of police for Marion County, Cody retired from the Kansas City Police Department. According to Meyer, the paper investigated rumors of wrongdoing by Cody after receiving multiple tips. There is no evidence this intelligence could have prompted the raid at this time. The digital information confiscated during the raid contains all correspondence between reporters and Cody regarding the misconduct inquiry.
When Meyer asked for a copy of the probable cause affidavit that was supposed to be filed in order to process a search warrant, he was informed that there was no such document. Cody says Meyer was a suspect in an ongoing investigation, so the affidavit wasn’t necessary.
Meyer thinks federal law should have shielded his publication from the raid that he sees as a violation of his right to free speech. The news of the raid has caused widespread uproar, so he isn’t alone in his opinion. Meyer has received backing from civil rights and press freedom groups, which believe the judge and police overstepped their jurisdiction.