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AP, news organizations ask court to unseal search warrants

RALEIGH (AP) The Associated Press and other news organizations have asked a judge to unseal warrants involving a candidate for sheriff in North Carolina whose ex-girlfriend has accused him of putting a tracking device on her vehicle.

In a motion filed April 1, the news organizations asked a judge to unseal warrants involving the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and Jason Reid, a narcotics officer and candidate to replace his father, Coy Reid, as sheriff in the May 8 Republican primary.

Judge Daniel Kuehnert sealed the search warrants and all information related to them in a closed hearing on April 19. The motion says Kuehnert then conducted another closed hearing on April 25, “flouting all constitutional mandates of notice and opportunity to be heard,” after a reporter for WBTV wrote to the judge.

“These repeated clandestine actions fly in the face of constitutional and statutory protection for public transparency and should be overturned,” the motion says.

Neither the State Bureau of Investigation, which is handling the case, nor the district attorney asked that the warrants be sealed, the motion says.

Because all the affected people and groups know about the investigation, the search warrant and the search, “the only justification that has been or could be made for the sealing of the search warrant is potential damage to the reputation or candidacy of Jason Reid in the May 8 primary,” the motion says.

The case began in August 2017 when the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint about a tracking device found on the vehicle of Reid’s ex-girlfriend. She said she found the device after Reid texted her several times, mentioning her location.

Reid calls the allegations a smear campaign. His father also told the Hickory Daily Record that the investigation was politically motivated, and that executing the search warrant on the first day of early voting was purposeful.

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