Monday, November 8, 2010

First Amendment Rights? We Can't Have Those! Too Dangerous!

As I have written many times, the courts -- whether they be state or federal -- exist more and more for the welfare of its employees, judges and prosecutors. From the outright refusal of federal judges to obey rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court to the endless predations of unaccountable prosecutors, perhaps the most lawless entities in the USA are found in the offices of judges and prosecutors.

Today, Jacob Sullum of Reason deals with a case against pain treatment activist Siobhan Reynolds in which she is being attacked by a federal prosecutor and federal judges simply for speaking out against the prosecution of Kansas pain doctor Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, both of whom were convicted and sentenced to what effectively were life sentences because the government thinks they wrote too many pain pill prescriptions.

The case by federal prosecutor Tanya Treadway was aimed at draining Reynolds of her money and forcing her to be silent, and it has worked well because, frankly, the First Amendment means nothing to prosecutors and judges. Furthermore, Treadway is working with someone else's money while Reynolds must spend her own, so it is not hard to see who wins the battle of resources.

Writes Sullum:
Discouraging public dissent, of course, is how this case got started. Tanya Treadway, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Stephen and Linda Schneider, was so irked by Reynolds' public defenses of the couple that she unsuccessfully sought a gag order telling Reynolds to shut up. Later Treadway initiated a grand jury investigation that resulted in subpoenas demanding documents related to Reynolds' activism as head if the Pain Relief Network (PRN), including a Wichita billboard defending the Schneiders and a PRN documentary about the conflict between drug control and pain control. Those subpoenas, supposedly aimed at finding evidence of obstruction of justice, are the subject of Reynolds' First Amendment challenge.
While the New York Times' reporter Adam Liptak has taken a hard look at this case and found the court's actions wanting, don't look for his employer to take an editorial stand, especially against a Department of Justice (sic) that is part of the Regime of the Messiah Obama. No, the NYT saves its First Amendment appeals only when the paper and its political allies find themselves in a corner.

What Treaday is doing to Reynolds is brutal. Treadway won the case, but she wants to destroy Reynolds because, well, she can do it. And no one, no court will stop her because, after all, they're the government and we're not. Writes Sullum:
Liptak, who has seen part of the secret 10th Circuit order that keeps the amicus brief sealed, says one reason the appeals court gave for its decision is that allowing distribution of the brief would help I.J. (Institute for Justice) and Reason publicly make their case that Reynolds is being persecuted for exercising her First Amendment rights. One of their goals, the Court said, "is clearly to discuss in public amici's agenda." Obviously, we can't have that.
No, we certainly cannot have that.


liberranter said...

To the criminal scumbags of the nation's criminal "justice" system, all I can say is: keep it up. Respect for you is already at an all-time low. Keep up the current shenanigans and it will reach the point very soon where NO ONE will cooperate with you. In fact, I predict that your days as predator and ours as prey are rapidly coming to an end and that shoes will very soon be on other feet!

Lookout Spy said...

The fact that a Federal prosecutor has the power to seal a brief in appellate wrangling just really blows my mind.

I find it totally unbelievable, to be honest. Orwell and Lewis Carroll would easily find a home in this column's rank of comparables when it comes to prosecutorial police power abuses. "Off with their heads!", cried the Red Queen.

Anonymous said...

I am with the Queen, Off with their
head. Another great blog. Thank you Mr Anderson.

Anonymous said...

Did you do any research prior to writing this regurgitation? The Schneider’s were running a pill mill where they defrauded insurance companies and patients. A number of their patients overdosed because the only medical treatment they provided was the writing of the prescription. The judge was right when he said this; "When persons leading or involved in an organization such as the Pain Control Network are so stupid that they support what occurred in this case, they demean the efforts of legitimate medical providers to help persons suffering from chronic pain,".

Reynolds does good work in her effort to educate people about pain therapy but she reached to far in offering to pay for the defense of the Schneider’s who abused their positions. She actively became involved in the defense and filed a law suit on behalf of unnamed patients to try and stop the prosecution. When she refused to comply with the court’s order she drained her own pocket book. Her speech went beyond that protected by the First Amendment when she used this case to further the Pain Relief Network's political agenda and her own personal interests.

William L. Anderson said...

First, I am not going to take the word of a federal prosecutor for anything. Others have raised serious issues as to whether or not the Schneiders were running a "pill mill," or whatever these people want to call it.

Second, I will be making a future post on a doctor sentenced for the same thing elsewhere. He was a childhood friend whom I have known for more than 50 years, and I know a lot about the case, and his family and personal situation.

I can say unequivocally that at his sentencing (my friend pleaded guilty because he had neither the resources or the personality to survive a trial), the U.S. attorney lied continuously.

No, I don't trust these people at all. Not at all. Furthermore, the government is trying to fashion "obstruction of justice" charges against Reynolds simply because she spoke out.

Now, if you approve of this kind of brutality, fine. You have lots of company, as most Americans don't seem to give a damn -- at least until they find themselves in the crosshairs of "justice," and then they start saying, "I didn't know this goes on in America."

Well, let me tell you that it does.

William L. Anderson said...

Oh, and this "they were convicted by a federal jury" cuts no ice with me at all. Federal juries tend to be utterly pliable and pretty much do what federal prosecutors tell them to do.

Anonymous said...

Federal juries are they same people you see driving on the road beside you every day. The general public who agrees a doctor has to exam a person and come to an educated opinion on treatment, not someone who prescribes pills without examination.

Reynolds did more than just speak out. The Westboro Church speaks out about their beliefs. What Reynolds did would be equivalent to the church members setting up roadblocks and talking to the cemetary workers prior to the burial service in an effort to persuade them not to dig the holes. The Supreme Court will rule there is no 1st Amendment issue here.

William L. Anderson said...

Really? I am not much familiar with the Schneiders' case or the evidence, but I have seen enough federal cases to know just how often federal prosecutors lie.

Now, I am sure that is fine with you, and as for Reynolds, you tell me one illegal thing she did by speaking out. And don't link her to the Westboro Church. She is not doing the same thing, and you know it.

By the way, you seem to be tied to this case in one way or another. Why don't you identify yourself just as Reynolds did instead of hiding behind the "anonymous" tag?

Anonymous said...

I have nothing to do with this case. If you do a little research instead of just regurgitating someone else’s articles you would know that Reynolds filed a civil injunction against the Department of Justice to stop the prosecution. "The group contends that the government's prosecution of Dr. Stephen J. Schneider and his wife, nurse Linda K. Schneider, is the latest in a crackdown by prosecutors against doctors who prescribe pain medication. And it claims the patients themselves suffer most." She went far beyond her 1st Amendment right.

My point with the church was they are an activist group that does nothing more than distasteful protests. Reynolds injected herself in the prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Your not that familiar with the case. So basically what your saying is because your of like mind with Sullum, what he writes must be correct. You put a little of your spin on his story and publish that to your blog.

Carola said...

With all due respect, Anon 10:14, the majority of doctors prescribe without much of an examination, nor do they really have a much of an idea of the actual (side)effects of any given drug. The drug approval process in the US and the cozy relationship of the FDA with drug companies is yet another story.

I don't like any kind of drugs, the ones bought on the street or the ones prescribed by doctors. I think there are better ways in controling and treating chronic diseases than the concuctions the pharmaceutical industry wants to make us believe are helping us, when in the long run they don't.

I don't know much about this case what I don't like though is the government tries to make decisions that are between the doctor and the patient. The government has no business meddling in a personal decision of what kind of treatment options I choose for myself or my family.

However, it has been long ongoing that the government is trying to take away a person's right to make their health decisions.

A little over two years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and after surgery the conventional docs I talked to all wanted to poison and burn me. After doing quite extensive research, I told them if they were so keen to do it, they could do it to themselves but I would have to respectfully decline their friendly offer.

What I found out over the course of doing alternative treatment is mindboggling. Had I made the same decision for a minor child, the government (often tipped off by doctors who stand to make a lot of money when forcing treatment on you) can and will terminate your parental rights in order to force your child to undergo chemotherapy (a more than questionable "treatment" with a less than 1 % success rate in healing cancer). Those doctors who have the audacity to not recommend poisoning a person with chemotherapy gets harrassed and prosecuted by the government, and in all likelihood will lose their license.
Even my naturopathic doctor had to first ask me if I would consider chemo.
I find it outrageous that the government can get involved in such a personal decision, particularly in forcing an ineffective treatment on people that 70% of oncologist said they would never take themselves if they were diagnosed with cancer.

The government is taking over parts of our lives that they have no business in! It is very common though that someone who speaks out and is not in line with the current opinion of the American Medical Association is that person will be chased down and prosecuted by the government. Nevermind that at some point blood letting and poisoning people with mercury as a treatment was the standard of care.

Back to the case at hand, personally, I don't believe that long-term treatment with opiate based pain killers will be beneficial but I also think it is not my business what someone else decides what their best for their health or what they want to advocate. And whereas I think in certain areas government has its legitimacy in certain regulations, I also believe that the government has been trampling people's rights in making their own health decisions for decades. I hope America will wake up and take their rights back but unfortunately the average American doesn't have a clue about what is really going on.

The Schneiders were not any more running a "pill mill" than other doctors currently prescribing all kinds of meds that will kill people in the long run.

The FDA and Merck are responsible for and estimated 1/4 million + deaths, knowing for years about the problems with Vioxx. Where was the criminal prosecutions for that? It just goes back to the fact that prosecutors will only go after those that they think can be bullied and who don't have the means to effectively fight back.

liberranter said...

Federal juries are they same people you see driving on the road beside you every day.

If that was intended as a defense of federal juries, I can't think of more boneheaded analogy. Way to go, trolltard.

Greg said...

What Treadway did to the Sneiders is pretty much the usual process that the Dept of Justice has used for the past 10 years in over 100 physician prosecutions (my own included) First they need to control the media with a propaganda campaign. Siobhan Reynolds understands this and is our only voice. She has, as I and every physician ever prosecuted learned, they can drain you financially, make you unemployable. You will beg them to give you a plea deal.

William L. Anderson said...

Wow. Reynolds filed a civil injunction, and that now is being spun as a crime.

By the way, troll, why do you equate justice with the actions of a prosecutor? Since when did Tanya Treadway become synonymous with "justice"?

The charge "obstruction of justice" is one of the most misused and misstated charges in the federal arsenal. It is a catchall "crime" that federal prosecutors file when they want to prosecute someone but can't find a real criminal charge.

What the troll is saying is that a prosecutor should always be able to do what he or she wants. I suspect that the same troll would think that what Len Gregor and Chris Arnt did was just fine.

To many federal prosecutors, the very act of someone mounting a defense is an affront to their view of "justice." How DARE that person defend himself? I have charged him, therefore he is guilty and does not deserve a defense!"

So, folks, every once in a while we get trolls that actually believe that prosecutors should have carte blanche, and there is nothing wrong with forcing a defendant to pay huge bills.

Prosecutors have a saying: "Bleed 'em and plead 'em." In other words, things like guilt and innocence really are irrelevant. What is relevant is winning and getting a number on the "plus" side.

It is sickening, but that is the country we have today.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! The current troll does seem to believe in complete government interference of everything. The minds of "it" scare the hell out of me. It's the new & easy thing for the feds to go after any dr who prescribes what they deem to be "too many" pain meds. My answer to that is, who cares??? I don't. I personally live with chronic pain everyday (which was caused by a botched surgery) & can't get a single pain med. I would love to find a "pill mill", as you put it, to help me. If people are addicted, it's on their individual shoulders, but when people truly need the darn things, they can't get them. So with the feds "saving Americans from themselves", I call hogwash!

When my father was dying of terminal/ inoperable/ untreatable cancer, he had to go through hell just to get pain meds. It was ridiculous.

When the government forces people to go to "the streets" for meds, that's when you have a problem. Out of all of the doctors in our country, less than 1% are "pill mills". Yes, I will say it again, who cares? They are probably helping many and mabye hurting others, but I would rather see the people who need help get it without having to go through so much crap!

Opiates help with a lot of other things, such as depression, the problem is actually with the tylenol in the product (it poses the dangers to the body). I will tell you this though, doctors have no problem writing scripts for anti-depressants which are more dangerous to the body. Also, with what Carola said about Vioxx, you can throw in many other meds which the government never prosecuted the manufacturers. These meds killed people! KILLED them. In return, the families had to sue the individual manufacturers for a very small amount. Oh, that's right, because the almighty FDA approved them (with little research), the government won't take them to task.

You say you don't have anything to do with the case, but I have serious doubts. You seem to "know too much". Just remember, some day, the shoe may be on the other foot & you may just ask for help from someone like Dr. Anderson to get your story out there.

Also, please do not compare anything with what Westboro & the Phelps do. What they do is cruel & outright slanderous. They are protected by the 1st Amendment also, but they have crossed lines. I don't see any lines having been crossed in Reynolds speaking her mind & echoing a lot of what doctors are feeling now, which is the feds watching their every move when it comes to pain meds. It's crap & if you dig deep enough, you will see it's crap.

Jerri Lynn Ward said...

"Her speech went beyond that protected by the First Amendment when she used this case to further the Pain Relief Network's political agenda and her own personal interests."

What is your legal authority for claiming that what she did went beyond the protections of the First Amendment? And, don't tell me that your authority is the judge's statements. That's akin to dicta.

William L. Anderson said...

By the way, troll, tell me why it is a CRIME to file a lawsuit? We are speaking of an INTERPRETATION of an act, with the interpretation coming from a federal prosecutor.

So, you are trying to tell us that federal prosecutors ARE the law. Well, you can happily live in the U.S.S.R., but I would prefer that we have a society that abides by rule of law, not by rule of tyrants.

Kerwyn said...

You go Jerri.

I have to tell you (anon person) this. As a medical professional I have seen physicians prescribe meds freely and seen physicians who won't prescribe when it is really needed.

Some, who prescribe say, if they say they hurt, then they hurt, those who don't say, I won't prescribe whether they hurt or not because I don't want the feds looking at my prescriptive authority.

So, some people get their pain controlled, some don't. As in all professions there are those who go over board and shouldn't. As I do not know this case I cannot comment on whether or not they were persecuted unfairly. I can tell you this however, I have a right, a duty and an obligation to speak out in whatever venue I can find if I feel that a basic right has been violated or denied. THAT is my first amendment right. I may file any lawsuit I feel I want to, that also is within my rights.

I will let Ms. Ward deal with the legal comments, but know this, this probably isn't the place you want to be if you want to whine about the first amendment, honor and dignity.
I suggest you not bring up the sick and twisted individuals who populated the westboro church.
Inappropriate, inaccurate and the argument of a weak mind.

Please note, I do not hide behind anon!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Kerwyn. I could not have said it better myself..

Jerri Lynn Ward said...

I have represented doctors accused of working for "pill mills" before the Medical Board. A lot of the accusations rest on criticisms of documentation and are subjective in nature.

The health care regulatory scheme has enabled the criminalization of actions that are NOT criminal in western legal tradition. In cases like the one in this story, prosecutors dispense with mens rea and intent.

For a description of how prosecutors conduct these cases, read Harvey Silvergate's book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.

Anonymous said...

I see the troll had nothing more to say.....hmmmmm, disappointing to say the least.

Jerri, keep up the good fight! We need more like you & my friends who are attorneys. You are few & far between, but I do, for some reason, still have hope. Guess I'm that glass half full gal.


KDaw said...

I am one of those people who has suffered with chronic pain for more than 30 years. I have fibromyalgia and lupus. I went undiagnosed for almost 20yrs. I spent years unable to do the simplest, most basic of tasks. I saw many doctors, only to be dismissed with "It's all in your head", even though I clearly had the markers for lupus. My life changed dramatically when I found a Dr. who was willing to listen. Before then, I even had some Drs. tell me I was in pain because I was depressed. In truth I was depressed because I was in PAIN. My quality of life is 10 fold better because of the pain medications. Yes, there are many people who overdose. But, that is not the fault of the DR! The instructions on the bottle are not suggestions. It is for your safety! Those who abuse their medication are NOT following the dosage instructions giving by their Dr. That responsibility lies solely on the patient. I DO NOT want the government stepping in telling my physician what he can and cannot prescribe to his patients. THEY are not Drs. I do not abuse my medications. And, quite frankly, I don't really understand those who do.
Reynolds first amendment rights are definitely being trampled on. I would suspect it is because the prosecutor doesn't want a tarnished public image. There are better ways to spend tax dollars. Why should the tax payers have to fund what should have been a PERSONAL slander suit? Which, as it seems to me, this case is. Treadway did not want her "image" tarnished and therefore the taxpayers can pay for her to file trumped up charges against an individual who was speaking out for patients rights to treatment!
This is ridiculous! A true case of misconduct by a prosecutor that should be a criminal act!

volfan69 said...

KDaw, I would love to be able to connect with you and learn more about your Dr. My husband has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Apparently out of the norm for a man. His hands, legs, and feet are his major problems. Many mornings it is all he can do to get out of bed, stand up, and start walking.

He has top level security at a government facility and carries a card that lists his medications. He is subject to random drug tests. He never has been questioned because he has the card and his boss is aware of his problem. It would be awful for us if the government stepped in and had him fired because of his current medications. No one knows what another person is going through. No one has the right to decide for anyone what they should do to try to maintain their health. My husband is very careful with his medication as are you. It isn't working very well for him though. Nevertheless, no one has the right to say he is involved in a "pill mill" with his physician or that he is not capable of doing his job.

Thanks for listening. Dr. Anderson, you are someone that I very much respect, admire, and appreciate. Bobb

KDaw said...

Volfan~ I am on FB. I don't know if you are. I can tell you here that we have recently started a new medication that has worked well. My Aunt also started this medication with incredible results. It is called Savella. A non-narcotic that works on the pain sensors in the brain. Have your husband ask his doctor about it. Mine started me with a titration pack. It starts you at a low dose and build you up slowly to a 50mg. 2x daily dose. It has decreased my need for the opiates and muscle relaxers. My pain levels went from a 7-8 in the am to a 3-4. If you are interested and on fb I'm Kellie Dawson. Just identify yourself in a message accompanying your friend request. Hope he does well. I know how terribly he is suffering.

Foreign Pharmacies said...

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Anonymous said...

The solution is call Treadway's bluff and wait the grand jury out. This is a very rare instance where malicious prosecution would win because there is, in fact, absolutely no probable cause for any possible crime. This kind of thing is best countered by drawing them into the trap.