But the lawsuit alleges that Cody was “outraged” that the newspaper was looking into his background before he took over as Marion's chief in May 2023. It also said it was on Jorn Cody's “enemies list” for laughing off a suggestion that they start a rival paper together.
The raid put Marion, a town of about 1,900 residents about 150 miles southwest of Kansas City, at the center of a national debate over press freedom. Legal experts said it may have violated state or federal law, and Cody resigned in early October. Meyer's 98-year-old mother, who lived with him, died the day after the ordeal, and he attributed her death to stress caused by it.
Zorn's federal case is the second in the raid. Former Record reporter Deb Gruver sued Cody for $75,000 within three weeks of the trial, and the parties are scheduled to meet with a mediator in April, according to court records. Zorn's attorney is Randy Rathbun, a former top federal prosecutor in Kansas.
“I'm certainly not against law enforcement, because that's what I did, but this kind of thing drives me crazy,” Rathbun said in an interview. “I know law enforcement, how they're supposed to behave, and … this is not.”
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation took over the newspaper's investigation, but it later had the Colorado Bureau of Investigation look into civil rights issues. Their findings were not made public.
The former Marion mayor, sheriff and county commission chairman did not immediately return phone messages Tuesday. Neither Cody nor the attorney representing him was involved in Gruver's case.
Marion City Attorney Brian Pina said he had not seen the case and could not comment, adding that the city's insurance company typically hires an attorney later. The amount Zorn is asking for is more than the city collects annually from property taxes to fund its $8.7 million budget for 2023.
Before the trial, Zorn had seizures that were controlled by medication, so that she had gone up to five years without one. Within days of the experiment, the seizures returned.
“The seizures were debilitating and led to extreme depression and anxiety,” the lawsuit said.
Cody said he had questions about how the newspaper verified the authenticity of a state document confirming a local restaurant owner's driver's record had been suspended for years for a past drunken driving conviction. .
Zorn's lawsuit said a tipster sent him a copy of the document, and he and the mayor used an online, public state database to verify its authenticity. The mayor emailed Cody a week before the raid regarding the document and their verification.
The lawsuit said Zorn and Meyer's actions were “clearly lawful.” Cody and the city's current interim chief were involved in the raid, as was the sheriff. The lawsuit claims the former mayor authorized Cody's investigation, and documents show former sheriff's deputy Cody helped draft search warrants.
The lawsuit alleges the county commission failed to properly train the sheriff's department to avoid civil rights violations.