Gagging On The Secret Gag Order: Reasons For Raid Kept Secret In Ohio

It seems that, even if the state laws are not the same, Ohio can still be as bad as Kansas with a little help from the courts.

From the Sandusky Register:

A Benedict Avenue resident contends Huron County deputies forced their way into his home Tuesday without a search warrant.

John Collins, who lives in one unit of a triplex home at 114 Benedict Ave., contends deputies got the wrong address when they executed the search warrant. The warrant was for the unit next to his, he said.

The deputies handcuffed him and left him lying on the floor in his unit for 20 minutes after they realized the mistake, Collins said.  

Collins, 26, said he was watching TV when he heard someone yell, “Huron County Sheriff” outside his door.

“As soon as I stood up, they bum-rushed the door and threw me on the ground at gunpoint,” Collins said.

They tore through his home, he said, after cuffing him and forcing him to the floor facedown.

“They searched my whole house, pulled stuff out my closet, broke a couple knick knacks” he said.

One deputy also stepped on his tablet, shattering its screen. Another broke a ceramic decoration that once belonged to his now-deceased son, Collins said.

Collins said he repeatedly told the deputies they had the wrong house.

“But they kept saying, ‘This is a drug house,’ and ‘You shouldn’t be in a drug house then’” Collins said.

I know this will shock many of you because we all know how supercompetent drug warriors usually are, but there were no drugs in the house. They even arrested Collins, handcuffing him and reading him his Miranda rights. Then they suddenly took off the handcuffs, “apologized,” and left Collins alone do deal with the wreckage in his house.

If that were all there was to the story, it would be pretty typical. But next the Huron County Sheriff’s Office got a judge to erect a wall of secrecy around them.

Huron County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Cardwell issued a secret gag order March 21 to seal the search warrant. The gag order is also secret, Cardwell’s court clerk said after the Register asked for a copy of the order.

And the criminal complaint that was filed with the Huron County Sheriff’s Office also is secret.

The Register learned the search warrant was gagged after Huron County Sheriff’s Capt. Ted Patrick failed to deliver on assurances he made Thursday, when he said he would follow up on the Register’s requests for the initial complaints that led to the search warrant.

Incident reports and search warrants are generally public record that cannot be withheld from release.

“You send me a records request via email and I’ll be happy to get what you need,” Patrick said Thursday.

Patrick did not respond to the email the Register then sent and, when a reporter went to the sheriff’s office Friday, the incident reports weren’t available.

Patrick, who for the past three years has routinely failed to follow the public records requirements of the Ohio Revised Code, was also unavailable.

This is local “law enforcement” in the United States.

Hat tip: TechDirt