MARION, Kan. (KAKE) - Former Vice Mayor and Councilwoman Ruth Herbel along with the Institute of Justice are filing a federal lawsuit after claiming her constitutional rights were violated by the investigation and intrusive warrants surrounding the raid on the Marion County Record.

On August 11th, 2023, Marion police raided the newsroom and seized computers, cellphones, and written materials. Then, the county attorney ordered the materials returned, saying there was insufficient evidence to take them in the first place. Marion County Record publisher Eric Meyer says while all the physical equipment was returned, not all the information taken made it back.

In a news release from Institute for Justice, they said:

"Last summer, Marion Vice Mayor and Councilwoman Ruth Herbel found herself caught up in a controversy that made national headlines. Tomorrow, Ruth and her attorneys with the Institute for Justice (IJ) will hold a press conference to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against the Marion, Kansas officials who violated her constitutional rights with a bogus investigation and intrusive warrants.

With a bogus warrant they had acquired from a friendly judge, police raided Ruth’s home, and Police Chief Gideon Cody seized her cell phone. Even after the warrant was withdrawn, the chief and Mayor David Mayfield continued to look for a way to prosecute Ruth.

The search of Ruth’s home had a very serious human cost. Ruth’s husband, who has dementia, was traumatized when he opened the door to find the police serving a search warrant. Cody himself seized Ruth’s phone even though it was her only phone and had her children’s and medical providers’ numbers on it.

While the spotlight of media attention soon resulted in the withdrawal of the warrants, Cody continued to seek criminal charges to pin on Ruth. The week after the raid, Cody circulated a draft affidavit for Ruth’s arrest, even though the officer who drafted it admitted, “I am not sure it fits any of the crimes we have discussed except the US fed code. Maybe there’s something missing.”

Ruth’s lawsuit alleges violations of her First Amendment rights to free speech and Fourth Amendment right to be secure in her home. While the retaliatory search and seizure were supported by a warrant, the warrant was obtained based on knowingly false information that didn’t even amount to probable cause. The judge issued the warrant based on these material lies and omissions and did not require that anyone swear to its truthfulness. Any reasonable officer would have known the warrant was invalid.

The lawsuit seeks damages to compensate Ruth and her husband for the harm they suffered as a result of Mayor Mayfield and his allies’ retaliatory scheme.

Ruth and her attorneys will also be available for phone or teleconference interviews. Please contact Andrew Wimer, IJ Media Relations Director, to arrange."