Siobhan Reynolds didn’t like that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas was prosecuting doctors for distributing painkillers that eventually led to an overdose. Her outspoken defense of the doctors got the attention of Federal Prosecutors. They asked the judge in the case to prohibit Ms. Reynolds from making “extrajudicial statements.” The judge wisely declined to suppress Ms. Reynolds’s free speech.
So the U.S. Attorney’s office took a new approach. They hit Ms. Reynolds with a “nuclear bomb of a subpoena” requesting Ms. Reynolds’s documents, communications and financial records. After spending $40,000 and facing jail time, Ms. Reynolds had to give in and provide the information the government requested.
Hopefully the Supreme Court will choose to hear this case and vindicate Ms. Reynolds’s right to speak out against what she sees as overly aggressive prosecutorial conduct. If the government has the ability to quash free speech with the excessive burden of expansive subpoenas, the chilling effect on speech would be enormous.