Jacob Sullum

The Tanya in question, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway, evidently was annoyed by the unusually balanced press coverage Reynolds helped arrange. In April 2008, Treadway took the extraordinary step of seeking a court order prohibiting Reynolds, who was neither a defendant nor a lawyer in the Schneiders' case, from talking about it. The prosecutor claimed Reynolds had "a sycophantic or parasitic relationship with the defendants," whom she was using "to further her own personal interests."

Nine months after a federal judge rejected Treadway's attempt to gag Reynolds, the activist learned she was the subject of a grand jury investigation into possible obstruction of justice. Reynolds and PRN received subpoenas demanding their communications with dozens of people, including relatives of the Schneiders and members of their defense team. Tellingly, the material sought includes correspondence related to a PRN-commissioned billboard in Wichita proclaiming, "Dr. Schneider never killed anyone."

Scott Michelman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is representing Reynolds, says the interest in the billboard "confirms that this so-called investigation is about Siobhan Reynolds' speech. ... The most plausible explanation here is that the prosecutor is trying to shut Siobhan up."

Last week, a federal judge rejected Reynolds' motion to quash the subpoenas on First Amendment grounds and imposed $200-a-day fines on her and PRN for refusing to comply. Reynolds plans to appeal. "This is a direct attempt to intimidate me and silence me," she told AP.

Another item sought by the grand jury is a PRN documentary that discusses how the war on drugs affects pain treatment, a video Michelman calls "completely innocuous from a criminal perspective" and "absolutely protected speech." Its title, especially apt in light of Treadway's vindictive campaign against Reynolds, is "The Chilling Effect."


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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