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Michigan AG withdraws subpoenas against Michigan Radio, Huffington Post

Mar 9, 2015

Michigan’s Attorney General’s office has decided to withdraw subpoenas it served on news media outlets, including Michigan Radio.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The subpoenas demanded notes and other information the news outlets collected in connection with a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The lawsuit alleges the corrections department is not doing enough to protect teenaged state prison inmates from sexual assault. 

Ann Arbor attorney Deborah LaBelle is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

She was interviewed last week on Michigan Radio’s Stateside with Cynthia Canty program. 

After the broadcast, Michigan Radio received a subpoena demanding the station turn over edited and unedited copies of the recorded interview, along with notes and other material collected by the show’s producer. 

The attorney general’s office also subpoenaed Huffington Post report Dana Liebelson. She was in the state last week to conduct interviews with prison inmates, for which she had obtained permission from the corrections department. In a series of tweets, she says she was approached twice at the prisons to be served the subpoenas. In one instance her interview was interrupted so that she could be served the subpoena. Liebelson tweeted that the subpoenas asked for her handwritten notes from the interviews.

Late today, a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette responded to questions about the subpoenas.

“A civil service attorney followed a common legal procedure of subpoenaing information from individuals entering Michigan prisons to speak to prisoners who are suing state taxpayers,” Schuette's press secretary Andrea Bitely wrote in an email. “However, after further review Attorney General Schuette has determined that information necessary to defending the State of Michigan can be obtained in other ways and will direct Department attorneys to withdraw the subpoenas.”