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Free Speech: Grand Jury Subpoenas Prominent Pain Relief Advocate Who Has Criticized the Prosecution of a Kansas Physician

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #581)
Politics & Advocacy

Siobhan Reynolds, head of the pain patient and doctor advocacy group the Pain Relief Network, has been targeted for a grand jury investigation of obstruction of justice for her role in supporting a Kansas physician and his wife in their legal battle against federal prosecutors who accuse them of unlawfully prescribing pain relief medications at their clinic.

Siobhan Reynolds at 2004 Congressional briefing
Reynolds, a tireless activist for the cause of adequately treating chronic pain, publicly questioned the government's case against Steve and Linda Schneider and worked to support their defense. That must have aroused the ire of Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway, who is prosecuting the case, because this isn't the first time Treadway has tried to shut Reynolds up.

Last July, Treadway sought a gag order barring Reynolds and the Schneiders from talking to the press and another order barring Reynolds from talking to "victims" and witnesses in the case. The judge hearing the case, US District Court Judge Monti Belot, denied that motion to stifle dissent.

At the time, Treadway said in court documents that Reynolds had a "sycophantic or parasitic relationship" with the Schneiders and alleged that she was using the case to further the Pain Relief Network's political agenda and her own personal interests. Reynolds and the Pain Relief Network advocate against federal prosecutions of pain relief doctors, whom they see as victims of overzealous federal prosecutors and DEA agents who know little about proper medical care standards.

Now, Treadway is at it again. In a subpoena made available to the Associated Press, she demands that Reynolds turn over all correspondence with attorneys, patients, Schneider family members, doctors, and others related to the Schneider case. She also demands that Reynolds turn over bank and credit card statements showing payments to or from clinic employees, patients, potential witnesses and others.

The feisty Reynolds has no intention of complying. Instead, she has filed a motion seeking to throw out the grand jury subpoena. In that motion, she argues that forcing her to turn over such information would destroy her work as a political activist and violate her First Amendment rights to free speech and association.

She told the AP she would go to jail before turning over any documents. "This is an attempt to silence and intimidate me. I am going to fight it as far as I need to," she said. "If I were to give in here, lawful advocacy against the United States in court will effectively be brought to an end. So... a lot is at stake here."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Pain patients and their advocates have no rights that need be respected by anyone. No one is more discriminated against. Although some progress has been made in cancer apain treatement the patients who suffer from chronic, non cancer pain are regarded as addicts seeking drugs or people who fail to see the redemptive qualities of suffering pain. I wish people like this could experience RSD/CRPS for even one day. They would change their minds in about an hour.

Fri, 04/17/2009 - 5:10pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Reynolds brave act of defiance and fuck-you attitude is the best news so far this issue. Truth to power... even when truth is treason... is the path of the patriot.

The prickly Tanya Treadways "sycophantic or parasitic relationship" with her legal powers is nothing new for authoritarians and drug war whores!

Unfortunately lawyers have made themselves immune to the 10th commandment and 'bearing false witness'... for now anyway!

In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king!

Life: Don't mess with the quantity or quality thereof.
Liberty: Don't take it unless you are willing to lose your life.
Happiness: Don't take it unless you are willing to lose your liberty.
Property: Don't take it unless you are willing to lose all of the above.

Fri, 04/17/2009 - 9:36pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I continue to encourage DRCnet to cover the plight of the American pain patient. Those who have not experienced the suffering, abuse, and medical neglect routinely foisted upon the old, sick, and weak cannot fathom the depths to which we have sunk in the name of the war on drugs. Elderly patients lie in their institutional beds, too frail to complain much, dying in agony because their nursing home cannot afford to train their employees to manage and monitor the miles of DEA-required redtape required for administering Scheduled drugs. The chronically ill, exhausted from fighting the disease process spreading throughout their bodies are told to "learn to live with the pain." And when they persist in their search for medication which affords them some semblance of normalcy they are casually labelled "drug seekers," a scarlet-letter label branded to personal medical records and preventing future medical caregivers from ever taking their complaints seriously again -- all without any sense of irony, or understanding that this term "drug seeker" is a perfectly reasonable label for someone who is hurting. What person confronted with pain day after day, grinding down all will and resolution unending, would not be a drug seeker?

A few will even have a physician honest enough to admit that he knows that these patients should have effective medication, yet he will not...can not...provide such medication, forever wary of losing his practice, his medical license, and even his personal freedom -- all because he responded to humans in pain with practical, compassionate, medically appropriate care...all because he had more compassion for his patients than fear of the prosecutorial reach of the American drug warriors.

The truth is, if you are in long-term pain in this country, you are considered to be somehow morally flawed, akin to being told you "can't hold your liquor." Buck up! Deal with it! It's your own fault that you couldn't get the physical therapy, exercise, or diet to relieve all your pain; you must not have been compliant with your treatment program. And God help you if you are female, young, or non-white skinned because your intentions are challenged at every level, the suspicion always just beneath the surface that you don't really need the pain medication; that you just want to "get high," that you are less worthy. And your pain is trivialized, discounted, and disbelieved.

Every now and then, into this insanity comes a compassionate doctor. Prescriptions are written. People are restored, their lives made liveable once again through pharmaceutical intervention. These doctors quickly learn that severe pain rarely responds to those non-opiate, nonaddictive medications, those flavor-of-the-week NSAIDs advertised on the pharmaceutical company's slick brochure as "ten times as effective as morphine" but are at best useless to actual patients and at worse deadly killers, destroying livers, kidneys and causing internal hemmorraging. And these courageous physicians take a chance and do the right thing - they treat their patients' pain with powerful, effective drugs; as recommended by the American pain treatment medical boards.

When they do this, it is as though they have committed a treasonous act and are immediately placed in the crosshairs of our trigger-happy government Drug Enforcement Agency, always obsessed with its next score. And doctors are very easy scores...sitting ducks with all that documentable proof; computer and paper files, slips of prescription paper and patient records all waiting to be mined, sifted, examined and squeezed for every possibility that one...just one patient was faking the pain. This evidence, no matter how tiny and improbable, is all the justification the government drug lords need to swoop in, arrest the doctor, and save America from drugs.

They call them "Doctor feel goods." When, I ask, did we decide that "feeling good" is a bad use of our time? There's some seriously flawed thinking going on here, possibly stemming from Protestant work ethic ideology -- if you can be happy by taking a pill or smoking a weed then you obviously didn't earn that happiness and therefore you must be deprived of it.

Into this abyssmal mess walks Siobhan Reynolds and her Pain Relief Network, and she does not suffer fools or ignorant government DEA lawyers. Siobhan is not going to lose. She is not going to be bullied. If they jail her, support for this cause will grow exponentially. People, however deadened their minds have become to drug-war silliness will not sit by and watch as pitiful medical patients are victimized in front of their eyes.

Listen carefully, because there's a sleeping tiger in here somewhere.

Here is also where DRCnet can gather new supporters and find new strength. I encourage DRCnet to join with Reynolds, as publicly as possible. Pain does not discriminate and devours sinner as well as saint, judge as well as jury. It cuts across all societal lines and affects conservative and liberal and independent alike. Citizens from all walks are sick and tired of being deemed too worthless to matter by those who man the national drug war machine. DRCnet will find allies where they never thought possible. It's time for DRCnet to take up the cause of pain patients in a forceful and visible way. Let us join with Siobhan and her Pain Relief Network, allocating our resources to come to her aid in her time of persecution.

written by Birds Also Walk

Fri, 04/17/2009 - 11:06pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

It hurts , even more, knowing you could have helped, had it not been for the DEA and drug war zealots, making sure you never practiced medicine again! Then, to have to suffer in chronic intractable pain, knowing how it could be treated, adds insult to injury. Sometimes it seems like death would feel better.

Keep up the good work, Siobhan! Don't let them win.

In the memory, of your late husband. Just one of the many drug war victims, who suffered, and died, from inadequately treated pain.

Sat, 04/18/2009 - 10:03pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you, Birds Also Walk and Anonymous. You said it all. God help us CPP/IP patients if Treadway has her way.


Sat, 04/18/2009 - 1:54pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I wouldn`t wish what i go thru every second of every minute of every hour of every day on any one, but one hour would make them see the light for only a day or 2 because their pain would be gone . Untill you have laid in bed for 3 or more years and really gotten to understand pain that dosn`t let you sleep , gone to "pain clinics " and heard the world famous , Well the first thing you have to do is get off of the pain meds your on , before they even know how or what your problems are , Even people that I `ve known for years don`t understand they have been brain washed by years of lies. This is a war , with suffering , death , corruption at the highest levels . We need to end this WAR No more LIES Come on MR President

Sun, 04/19/2009 - 5:52am Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway will have much to explain at her next job interview, assuming she can get an interview once Obama replaces the U.S. attorneys appointed by the Bush administration with his own appointments.  In fact, Treadway may go from being unemployed to being unemployable, much like Alberto Gonzalez.

It’s bad enough to be professionally tainted by working for BushCo, but to abuse one’s judicial powers in a high profile federal case by targeting individuals such as Siobhan Reynolds for her pursuit of her first amendment rights, as well as her obvious compassion for others, is really over the top.

If conservatives without a conscience, such as Tanya Treadway, are to occupy the U.S. attorneys’ office in the future, then something must be done to reduce the legal powers and the lack of accountability afforded to assistant U.S. attorneys in order to rein them in.  It might be easier to perform psych profiles on the Tanya Treadways of the world to keep them out of public service altogether:  no conscience, no job.

Whatever Ms. Treadway’s future job turns out to be, her example adds to the mounting body of evidence that says the U.S. drug laws arouse and amplify the most egregious imperfections existing in our justice system.


Tue, 04/21/2009 - 6:06pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

ACLU Backs Reynolds’ Motion to Quash Grand Jury Subpoena for Obstruction of Justice in U.S.A. v Dr. Schneider; Alex DeLuca; Addiction, Pain and Public Health website; 2009-05-09.

==> Reynolds Grand Jury Investigation - Motion to Quash Subpoenas - Bonney, Michelman, and Rorty; ACLU attorneys for Reynolds and PRN; 2009-05-07. (PDF of the brief)

Excerpt (DeLuca):

The ACLU brief Argues (starting on page 4):

  1. “The Subpoenas Unjustifiably Invade Ms. Reynolds and PRNs Freedoms of Speech and Association;”
  2. “The Subpoenas are Overbroad;”
  3. “The Subpoenas Are a Misuse of the Grand Jury Process To Circumvent Standard Criminal Discovery;”

and finally Concludes:

“On its face, AUSA Treadway’s fishing expedition appears to have the impermissible purpose of obtaining information about the Schneider’s defense. Therefore the subpoenas should be quashed as an abuse of the grand jury process.” (page 18)


Alexander DeLuca, M.D., MPH
War on Doctors/Pain Crisis

Sat, 05/09/2009 - 7:19pm Permalink
Pharmacist Steve (not verified)

IMO - the likes of Tanya Treadway... are not much more than legalized "school yard bullies". They waste taxpayers' monies going after mis-informed, mis-guided, self-serving interests. The "war on drugs" will soon celebrate its 100 anniversary.. it has become a self-serving,self-perpetuating INDUSTRY.

Pharmacist Steve

Thu, 03/11/2010 - 9:07pm Permalink

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