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Constitutional Law

Did Feds Use ‘Nuclear Bomb’ Grand Jury Subpoena to Silence Critic? Supreme Court May Decide

Posted Nov 1, 2010 3:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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When a federal prosecutor tried to get a gag order against an outspoken critic of a case holding two Midwestern doctors criminally accountable for prescribing pain medication, a judge said no, citing the First Amendment.

But then the prosecutor issued what Siobhan Reynolds describes as a "nuclear bomb" of a grand jury subpoena to her, even though she has no formal role in the case, and that was a different story, reports the New York Times in a column written by Adam Liptak.

Reynolds fought the subpoena and lost, then for some time refused to comply. That resulted in some $40,000 in fines against her and her organization before she folded. The fines were upheld by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a proceeding that was secret because it concerned a grand jury.

Now, represented by Robert Corn-Revere of Davis Wright Tremaine, Reynolds hopes to hear soon that the U.S. Supreme Court will review her case.

“The grand jury was created to be a buffer between the government and the people and to be a check on tyranny,” Corn-Revere said. “The problem in this case is that it was misused by a prosecutor to silence a government critic and then to hide those actions in secret proceedings.”

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