Criminal Justice

Tanya Treadway's Unconstitutional Vendetta


This week the Institute for Justice and the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason magazine and Reason Online) filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Siobhan Reynolds, the pain treatment activist who is fighting a federal prosecutor's vindictive obstruction-of-justice investigation. As I explained in a September column, Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network (PRN), ran afoul of Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway by publicly defending Haysville, Kansas, physician Stephen Schneider, whom Treadway is prosecuting on drug charges related to his painkiller prescriptions. After unsuccessfully seeking a gag order to prevent Reynolds from talking about the case, Treadway tried a different tack. She obtained grand jury subpoenas that demanded a wide range of material detailing PRN's efforts on behalf of Schneider and other doctors Reynolds believes have been wrongly accused of running "pill mills." Reynolds refused to comply with the subpoenas on First Amendment grounds and consequently is paying $400 a day in contempt fines. With help from the ACLU, she is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit  to overturn the contempt finding and quash the subpoenas.

Because most of the record in the case (including Reynolds' appeal brief) is sealed*, ostensibly to protect the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, it is hard to tell exactly how Treadway thinks Reynolds obstructed justice. But her theory seems to be that Reynolds did so by criticizing the government's case against Schneider and thereby influencing the jury pool—i.e., by exercising her constitutional right to freedom of speech. The "evidence" sought by Treadway includes correspondence related to a billboard defending Schneider and a PRN video about the conflict between drug control and pain control. The I.J./Reason brief argues that forcing PRN to divulge information about its membership, finances, communications, and internal operations "chills speech and burdens the right to engage in anonymous speech and association." It reinforces that point by citing I.J.'s research on the chilling effect of public disclosure requirements. It also argues that a fishing expedition like Treadway's violates the First Amendment right to freedom of association by requiring disclosure of an activist group's political strategies.

*Update: Before I wrote this post, I checked with Geoffrey Michael, the lead attorney on the I.J./Reason brief, to make sure it was OK to make the file available here. He thought that was fine, since the brief did not contain any secret grand jury information. But he has since informed me that the 10th Circuit's clerk says the brief should not be published, which is why it is no longer here. This instruction illustrates the ridiculously broad notion of grand jury secrecy at play in this case, since the amicus brief is based entirely on publicly available information. Scott Michelman, the ACLU attorney who is representing Reynolds, told me he was not allowed to share his U.S. District Court brief opposing the subpoenas, although he was free to reiterate the arguments it contained.

NEXT: Fine Dining at the Reason Restaurant

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  1. I always thought that chick was off her rocker! I guess she really is.


  2. SEN. BOXER: If ObamaCare Covers Viagra, it should cover abortion

    1. Boners = Babies

      There is a strong causal relationship, despite turkey baster outliers.

  3. Too bad this didn’t occur in Phoenix. Treadway could have just gotten a deputy to take the documents.

  4. The sad thing about gangbangers like Tanya Treadway is that they truly believe that the fear they instill in others by their thuggish behavior is “respect.”

    They seem to have no idea that respect can be earned by service to their fellow men, and in fact look at people engaging in honest productive work as being patsies.

    At this point it’s probably too late for Tanya to reform and grow out of her love of the thug life. She will spend her life as some punk, and when she gets too old and loses her edge, some young thug will displace her, and she will find herself living in a world where she is surrounded by people who hate her but no longer fear her.

  5. it is hard to tell exactly how Treadway thinks Reynolds obstructed justice.

    I have a theory; Treadway believes she should be allowed to throw anyone she wishes into prison. Those who attempt to impede her are “obstructing justice”.

    1. x2. When you’re sitting there, minding your own business, drinking your morning coffee, and an angry cop pulls his gun on you screaming obscenities and demanding you get on the ground, when you look perplexed and start asking questions, that’s “resisting arrest”.

      1. And, disorderly conduct.

  6. Maybe somebody will have a different take, but I’ve met a lot of prosecutors over the years, and I’ve never met one that wasn’t an absolute piece of shit as a person, both personally and professionally. My theory on this is that terrible, horrific people go to the prosecutor’s office because it is the one place they can be complete shitwipes without fear of consequences. People who stay there a long time do so because they have grown accustomed to getting away with (and being admired for) being the sleaziest lawyer in the courtroom at any given time.

    1. I guess the fact that defense lawyers usually cut their teeth as prosecutors must mean that their consciences didn’t completely atrophy in law school.

  7. Someone needs to insert a pineapple in Tanya Treadway

  8. Tanya Treadway is a pretty good name for a supervillan, I think. Do you suppose she wears a robot suit and smashes cars, or something equivalent?

  9. The bigger problem with prosecutors is that some become judges.

  10. Lamar, our local DA is a very decent and honorable man in his private life. I, sadly, haven’t paid close enough attention to tell you if he is a tyrant in his job. He is young and only in the position a few years.

    1. A conscientious DA is a more valuable resource than most people realize.

  11. Tarran, sometimes people like Treadway forget that not everyone fears them. Sometimes the bully doesn’t grow old enough to be replaced by a better one.

  12. Wonder if Treadway can indict every Reason commenter on this thread?

    Come get us, bitch.

  13. Whaddya mean “we” white man?

  14. Hey, if we get enough of this “chilling effect”, maybe it will offset some global warming.

  15. Keep on fighting Siobhan. Found guilty before your day in court? That’s America today, folks!

  16. Don’t Treadway on Me.

  17. The update pisses me off more than the original story.

  18. I assume the “I.J./Reason brief” is the document we are not allowed to read? Perhaps, ReasonOnline could tell us, at least, what the initials “I.J.” stand for…. or is that, too, forbidden?

    1. “This week the Institute for Justice and the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason magazine and Reason Online) filed a friend-of-the-court brief”

      IJ = Institute for Justice

    2. Institute for Justice, first sentence.

      1. Dammit! Forgot to refresh, you win this one Lamar.

  19. “Sentence first; trial afterward.”

    1. The fact that Lewis Carrol wrote that line nearly 150 years is not an encouraging sign of judicial progress.

  20. Not to be a dick or anything, but Reynolds is defying this bitch to the tune of $400 a day fines, and the court makes an even MORE unreasonable and unconscionable demand of a print publication dedicated to liberty, and the print publication caves instantly and does what it’s told?

  21. DEA and local Barneys are popping these cases everywhere. Next time you’re at the doctor’s office tell him you have pain and watch him start acting funny because he’s afraid you’ll want him to stop it. Livin in America. Arbeit Macht Frei.

  22. Remember, the Constitution doesn’t apply to drugs. The “drug exception” … you know, for the children.

  23. Siobhan Reynolds is a true American Hero. It’s no suprise US Attorney Treadway seeks to crush her.

  24. hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.dtjrtjrtdj

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