The Alarmingly Secretive Persecution of Siobhan Reynolds

Posted: October 31st, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

The Agitator

I posted here last year on Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Treadway’s vendetta against pain patient advocate Siobhan Reynolds. Reynolds’ transgression was to publicly question Treadway’s prosecution of Kansas pain specialist Steven Schneider and his wife.

Treadway, no slouch at playing the media herself, first sought a gag order preventing Reynolds from criticizing the state’s case in public. She then sent federal agents to intimidate the patients speaking out on Schneider’s behalf. When all that failed, shelaunched a grand jury investigation into Reynolds, demanding Reynolds turn over a mountain of documents related to her advocacy. Treadway then sought, and was granted, an extraordinary seal on any and all documents related to the case. Reynolds isn’t permitted to share documentation from her case with anyone. She had to get permission just to let Reason and the Institute for Justice access the documents so they could submit an amicus brief on her behalf.

Reynolds’ case has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and the government is claiming some chilling powers. Here’s my colleague Jacob Sullum:

This level of secrecy, which the Associated Press says “has alarmed First Amendment supporters” who see it as “highly unusual” and “patently wrong,” is clearly not justified by the need to protect the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings. The 10th Circuit decided to seal even the Reason/I.J. amicus brief, which is based entirely on publicly available information. More generally, the gist of the case could have been discussed without revealing grand jury material, as Reynolds’ Supreme Court petition shows. Although the court-ordered redactions make the 10th Circuit’s reasoning as described in the petition hard to follow at times, the details generally can be filled in with information that has been reported in the press (which shows how silly the pretense of secrecy is). Furthermore, one of the main justifications for grand jury secrecy—that it protects innocent people who are investigated but never charged—does not apply in a case like this, where the target of the investigation wants more openness and it’s the government that is trying to hide information. As Corn-Revere argues, such secrecy turns the intended role of the grand jury on its head, making it an instrument of oppression instead of a bulwark against it….

I’d like to show you the Reason/I.J. brief defending Reynolds’ First Amendment rights, but I’m not allowed to!

Bonus points in this case for its ability to attract bipartisan authoritarianism:  Treadway is a Bush appointee, and this all got rolling under his watch. But the Obama administration is not only continuing the case against Reynolds, it’s also arguing in favor of keeping the case hidden from public scrutiny. There are no national security implications, here.  There are no government informants to protect (I guess we don’t know that for sure, but I can’t imagine why there would be, or why their names could be redacted). This is an obstruction investigation into a woman who has criticized the government for what she feels are wrongful prosecutions. It’s telling that Treadway, a federal prosecutor with a history of promoting the hell out of her cases, doesn’t want to anyone to know about this one.

But let’s recap: Treadway tried to censor Reynolds from criticizing her, Treadway, a federal prosecutor. She then tried to intimidate patients of the doctor Reynolds was advocating for from defending him. She then retaliated against Reynolds with a criminal investigation. And she has now gagged Reynolds and barred the public from knowing anything about that investigation. And thus far, on the latter two actions, the federal courts have backed her up.

This is scary stuff.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Ian MacLeod says:

    Well, I have no website to post to now that the Pain Relief Network – Siobhan’s blog and archived chronic pain library – has been destroyed as a result of Treadway’s egregious attack on Siobhan. Siobhan could no longer afford to keep up the payments to keep even the archives on the Web, and the handful of pain patients remaining who were willing to try can’t either. It’s gone. Years of articles, pain patient’s stories and conversations, some posts from doctors – all of it is just gone.

    After seeing Treadway’s and the Federal judge’s performances regarding this misuse of the law to attack Siobhan because as an advocate, she dared to advocate proper treatment effectively applied, which was after all the reason for the PRN, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in the first place, I can say with certainty that this is no longer America. At least, it is NOT the America I was raised in; I’ll go along with those who choose to spell it “Amerika”. It’s a police state, the zombie of the country my family and I all served in tine of war. It’s as though my country has been hollowed out, and some sort of evil worm crawled inside and is now wearing the corpse of the place I loved as a mask. In the America I was born into, someone like Treadway, mistakenly positioned in the Do, would have lost that position, along with her reputation, for what she did. Probably the judge would have as well.

    Prosecutors now run the courts, together with complicit right-wing judges, and as Siobhan herself once wrote, “To be accused is to be destroyed.” And she was. She and her fiancee, Kevin Beyers, an ACLU volunteer lawyer, died this past Christmas in a small plane crash in which Kevin was the pilot. It seems he attempted to land on a road running parallel to the runway about 150 feet off to side of it – on a clear morning with a “moderate wind” that shouldn’t have been problematic. Everyone who knew him as a pilot commented about cautious and careful a pilot he was. I’ve heard nothing about an investigation since this, either.

    During the trial once, when Siobhan was seated in the audience, a DEA agent sat directly behind her, spinning the chambers of his gun (in a courtroom!), and clicking it open and shut, open and shut directly behind her head. as she finally went to leave the agent told her, “You WILL pay for everything you’ve done!” apparently regarding her “interference” in this DoJ attack on Dr. Schneider and his wife. She had stated since then that she was working on a book, and that she fully intended to continue to pursue her advocacy for correct pain treatment, and a change in the government’s continued attacks on doctors who practiced Pain Management correctly. Now, obviously, none of her plans will happen, and I know of no one capable of filling her shoes.

    Siobhan Reynolds, a courageous, generous and fiercely caring mother, friend and advocate, had finally begun to get some real traction, some real national notice when she and Kevin (and Kevin’s 90-some year old mother, who was also on the fight) first lost her marriage, then her husband to her husband’s lack of pain treatment due to the insane Drug War and the lying, greedy, power and funding hungry people who drive it – over anyone and everyone who gets in the way. She had also hoped to get Pain Management back into the hands of trained medical people instead of cops who see nothing but criminality in pain treatment before her son’s condition, inherited from his father, killed him after years of agony as it did her husband. That chance is pretty much gone now too.

    I don’t know how to say what I want to say without accusing, and I can’t really accuse with no evidence of any sort, but damn them all anyway – all of those lying, game-playing legalists who are willing to destroy life after life in pursuit of a fake, destructive and very lucrative Drug War! One Siobhan Reynolds was worth more than all of them taken together!

    Something my wife suggested here that I find VERY appropriate:

    “We now live in a nation where
    doctors destroy health,
    lawyers destroy justice,
    universities destroy knowledge,
    governments destroy freedom,
    the press destroys information,
    religion destroys morals,
    and our banks destroy the economy.”
    Chris hedges

    Ian

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