Federal grand jury tells Kansas bookstore to hand over customer records
By The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kan. A federal grand jury has subpoenaed customer
purchase records from a northeast Kansas bookstore, at least the third such
federal request for records around the country in the past three years.
The subpoena, involving a Borders store in Johnson County, came to
light last week when a bookseller industry newsletter reported that several
groups had filed court papers on Borders' behalf.
Grand jury investigations are confidential, and few details of the
case were known. The Kansas City Star
reported Nov. 17 that the case in question is pending before a
federal judge in Kansas City, Kan., and is sealed.
However, an attorney for Borders told the newspaper that the subpoena
was issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration in mid-September.
A spokeswoman at Borders' headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., declined
to comment on the subpoena, also citing the confidential nature of the
investigation. She was unable to say which of the three Borders stores in
Johnson County had been subpoenaed.
Also unclear was whether one or more customers' purchase receipts were
"PW Daily for Booksellers," an industry newsletter put out by
Publishers Weekly, reported Nov. 15 that the American Booksellers Foundation
for Free Expression, the Media Coalition, the Upper Midwest Booksellers
Association, the National Association of College Stores and other groups had
filed papers in the case on Borders' behalf.
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is supported
by 15 book, First Amendment and freedom-of-expression groups.
In the first federal subpoena case, investigators sought the bookstore
purchase records of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. A
federal judge ruled that the request
was overly broad.
The case later became irrelevant when Lewinsky struck a deal with
independent counsel Kenneth Starr granting Lewinsky immunity from
The second case arose in April when five plainclothes police officers
entered the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver with a search warrant for the
records of one of the store's customers.
Police had found two books on the manufacture of methamphetamine in
the customer's home and a Tattered Cover shipping envelope in the customer's
trash, according to the American Booksellers Foundation.
In October, a judge narrowed the warrant's scope but
ordered the bookstore to disclose the
contents of the shipping envelope. The
store's owner has appealed the
order to the Colorado Supreme Court.
A brief on behalf of the Tattered Cover has been filed by the American
Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.
Federal judge quashes subpoena for Kansas bookstore's sales records
Civil liberties groups had expressed concern about possible 'chilling effect on book purchasers and booksellers.'