Judge Laura Viar Wikipedia, Political Party
Judge Laura Viar Wikipedia, Political Party – In response to the Marion County Record’s investigation into a local restaurateur’s history of drunken driving, a police search of the newsroom was ordered by a Kansas magistrate judge who himself had a concealed drunken driving history.
Judge with a history of DUI charges authorized the raid on the Kansas newspaper.
According to a Wichita Eagle investigation, Judge Laura Viar, who was appointed on January 1 to fill a vacant 8th Judicial District magistrate seat, was detained at least twice in 2012 for DUI in two distinct Kansas counties. She was Morris County’s top prosecutor at the time.
Because the warrant she granted for the contentious search was in reaction to the Marion County Record looking into restaurant owner Kari Newell’s DUI history, Viar’s history may come under investigation. After Newell protested about the newspaper’s probe into her criminal history, Viar ordered the raid.
Joel Ensey, the Marion County Attorney, stated on Wednesday that there was “insufficient evidence” to support the warrant’s issuance and show that the items confiscated were related to the alleged crime.
If Viar’s arrests and detention were known to the judicial nominating committee that chose her for the magistrate job, it’s unclear what they would have done. Reporters from the Eagle and Kansas City Star were unable to reach any commission members. Both of her arrests would have had to be disclosed in her application.
The first arrest, which occurred on January 25, 2012, in Coffey County, about an hour and a half southeast of her house in Council Grove, has not been made public.
The second occurred in Morris County on August 6, 2012, during a successful reelection campaign for the office of Morris County attorney. According to court records, she was not authorized to be driving since her license had been suspended in the Coffey County case. Driving then-8th District Magistrate Judge Thomas Ball’s car, she allegedly drove off-road and into a school building near to Council Grove’s football field.
Her Coffey County diversion deal would have undoubtedly been broken by the Morris County arrest. However, according to court papers, Coffey County’s attorneys were unaware of the Morris County case. In Morris County, where she was running for reelection, the earlier DUI in Coffey County was not made public.
Due to Ball’s involvement in the case, all of the judges in the 8th District withdrew from hearing Viar’s second DUI case, and the criminal prosecution was given to Wabaunsee County Attorney Norbert Marek Jr., who was later appointed by former Governor Sam Brownback as a 2nd District judge.
What transpired after it is unknown. The case does not exist in the state’s court records database, and no additional articles are found in any archives of newspapers that are accessible to the general public. The 2nd District was contacted with questions, but Marek did not react right away.
Viar, who at the time went by the name Laura E. Allen, was accused in Coffey County and entered a diversion agreement, which was extended by six months because she refused to undergo an alcohol and drug test and stopped corresponding with her attorney.
She ran as a Republican for Morris County attorney and repeatedly won reelection. The state’s attorney discipline board never punished her. Eric L. Smith, the Coffey County sheriff’s deputy who conducted the arrest, currently represents the county in the Kansas Legislature. According to the court documents, he also observed prescription medicines in the vehicle.
Smith admitted to The Eagle in a phone interview on Monday that he recalls the arrest but cannot place it precisely.
Without glancing at the study, Smith responded, “I couldn’t tell you the specifics.” “I’m not trying to blow you off, but there’s just no way I would feel comfortable giving you information on a case I barely remember.””It was me,” he said. “I don’t really remember that, to be honest. She was a county prosecutor in another county, as I believe I learned along the way. At one point, I was aware of that.
According to court records, the Kansas Department of Revenue’s administrative hearings division affirmed the suspension of her driving rights. Following an appeal, the 31st Judicial District dismissed it.
According to court documents, she struggled to adhere to the conditions of her DUI diversion agreement. She refused to comply with the requirement to obtain an alcohol and drug evaluation during the diversion term, and Coffey County threatened to bring the matter to trial as a result. Her diversion was extended by six months by the court. It’s unknown if she ever requested the assessment.
She also “refused to cooperate or communicate with” John E. Rapp, a Wichita attorney who specialized in DUI cases, during the diversion. Rapp’s motion to step down as her lawyer was approved by the court in early 2013, according to court documents. No indications that prosecutors were aware of the second arrest can be found in the Coffey County court file.
Viar’s contact information was withheld by the 8th District court clerk, who also declined to make Viar accessible for an interview. The clerk sent The Eagle’s inquiries to a Kansas Judicial Administration representative, who claimed to have sent them by email to Viar.
Viar is silent in the face of inquiries. According to Lisa Taylor, a representative for the Office of Judicial Administration, neither the judge nor the court are permitted to comment on an ongoing case that might be brought before the court. “Regarding your question that the judge explain why she signed the warrant, neither the judge nor the court can comment on a pending matter that could come before the court,” Lisa Taylor said in a statement.
When asked if it was informed of any arrests or criminal accusations filed against Viar when he was a prosecutor, the Kansas Office of Disciplinary Administration, which investigates and punishes attorneys, declined to comment.
Matthew J. Vogelsberg, chief deputy disciplinary administrator for the ODA, said, “What I can disclose to you is that Judge Viar holds an active law license and has no prior attorney discipline.”