I have written about Siobhan Reynolds before. The short version: here is a woman whose speech against government policy is so dangerous that the government will not even allow us to find out what is so dangerous. All the court papers dealing with the charges against her have been sealed.
Jacob Sullum has the latest.
By speaking out in defense of a Kansas doctor and nurse accused of running a “pill mill,” pain treatment activist Siobhan Reynolds annoyed the federal prosecutor assigned to the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway was so angry that in April 2008 she sought a court order telling Reynolds to shut up. Concluding that such an order would be an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said no.So here we have a sentence delivered not for the actual crime but to "stop the activities" of people not even associated with the crime. "Unconstitutional vendetta" sums it up nicely.
But by the time Belot sentenced the defendants, Stephen and Linda Schneider, last October, he was so irritated by Reynolds’ advocacy that he could not contain himself. He said he hoped the harsh sentences—three decades each—would “curtail or stop the activities of the Bozo the Clown outfit known as the Pain [Relief] Network, a ship of fools if there ever was one.”
Reynolds, who founded the Pain Relief Network (PRN) in 2003 to highlight the chilling effect of drug law enforcement on the practice of medicine, evidently has a talent for getting under the skin of people in power. But that is not a crime. By treating it as such, Treadway used grand jury secrecy to cloak an unconstitutional vendetta.
Here is a notice from PRN.
To: The Pain Relief Network CommunityMy evil hope (no way around that) is that the people who support the Drug War see themselves, their children, their relatives, and friends suffer unimaginable pain from insufficient pain relief caused by the Drug War. When enough people are in enough pain we will end this stupidity.
From: Siobhan Reynolds
Dec 29, 2010
The Members of the Board of Directors and I have decided to shut down PRN as an activist organization because pressure from the US Department of Justice has made it impossible for us to function. I have fought back against the attack on me and PRN but have received no redress in the federal courts; so, the board and I have concluded that we simply cannot continue.
It is important to note that PRN has been refused standing in federal court to sue the federal government in defense of the patients’ Constitutional rights; this, when the Sierra Club has been given leave to sue powerful entities on behalf of insects. Even after changing tactics by suing under the names of persons directly injured both materially and Constitutionally, the federal courts in the 9th Circuit denied standing to a doctor and a group of his oppressed patients; preventing them from suing the State of Washington for their dangerous and lawless attack on the rights and personal welfare of Washington doctors and patients.
It certainly appears that the legal deck is stacked against pain patients and doctors. Despite this, others will keep trying because so very much is at stake. A group of us may bring another action in the Western District of Washington in the near future; but exactly how that will be framed is not yet clear. In any event, the action will not be undertaken under the auspices of PRN.
People in pain are still being abused, neglected, and left to die by the entire system. Physicians brave enough to treat chronic pain continue to be intimidated and prosecuted. It breaks my heart that we have to stop, but there is simply no way forward for PRN.
The trouble is you have people like Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics giving illegal drugs to a sitting Senator (Joe McCarthy) to keep him out of the black market and potential scandal. There is one law for the little people and another law for the elect. And there is darned little that citizens can do about it directly because the "enforcers" are unelected.