“Magistrate Judge Laura Viar signed a search warrant that authorized Marion police to raid the Marion County Record’s newsroom and the home of the editor and seize their computers, cell phones and other records related to the newspaper’s probe into a local restaurant owner’s drunk-driving record.” (Wichita Eagle)
The Kansas magistrate judge who authorized a police raid of the Marion County Record newsroom over its probe into a local restaurateur’s drunken-driving record has her own hidden history of driving under the influence.
Judge Laura Viar, who was appointed on Jan. 1 to fill a vacant 8th Judicial District magistrate seat, was arrested at least twice for DUI in two different Kansas counties in 2012, a Wichita Eagle investigation found. She was the lead prosecutor for Morris County at the time.
Ok, but so what? Many people have done stupid, even illegal things in the past like drunk driving and gone on to live productive lives. In Viar’s case though some are contending that her own checkered history played a role in granting the search warrant, which many say should never have happened.
Viar’s DUI history could face scrutiny because the warrant she approved for the controversial raid came in response to the Marion County Record digging into the DUI history of restaurant owner Kari Newell. The Viar-authorized raid came after Newell complained about the newspaper’s investigation into her criminal background.
The Wichita Eagle goes into a fairly long explanation of the events that happened back in 2012 as best they could from available public records but found troubling details.
The first arrest — in Coffey County, about an hour and 15 minutes southeast of her home in Council Grove, on Jan. 25, 2012 — has not been reported.
The second — in Morris County on Aug. 6, 2012 — came amid an unopposed reelection bid for Morris County attorney. She was not supposed to be driving because her driver’s license was suspended in the Coffey County case, court records show. She reportedly drove off-road and crashed into a school building next to Council Grove’s football field while driving then-8th District Magistrate Judge Thomas Ball’s vehicle.
And now the things that make one scratch their head.
The case does not exist in the state’s court records system, and no follow-up articles appear in any publicly available newspaper archives.
Marek [special prosecutor] did not immediately respond to questions sent to the 6th District. In Coffey County, Viar, who went by Laura E. Allen at the time, was charged and entered a diversion agreement — which was extended six months because she refused to get an alcohol and drug evaluation and stopped communicating with her lawyer.
So, after her first offense, she was in a diversion program of some sort, details unknown. And there’s no record at all what happened after the second DUI. It’s unclear if it was just scrubbed from the record and some punishment was meted out but we don’t know what happened. We do know that Viar/Allen was up for election at the time though.
Curious and curiouser.