Judge won’t lift bookstore subpoena in Lewinsky case

Friday, May 29, 1998



WASHINGTON — Kramerbooks & afterwards, a popular Washington bookstore that was hit by a subpoena last March from Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr for Monica Lewinsky’s book purchases, has lost the first round in its legal battle to fight the order but plans to appeal, a spokesman said yesterday.


Bob Witeck, whose Washington public relations firm represents Kramerbooks, said the bookstore learned earlier this week that U.S. District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson had rejected Kramerbooks’ motion to quash the subpoena. Instead, the judge ordered that the scope of the subpoena be limited and directed the trendy Dupont Circle bookstore to either comply or appeal.


“We filed a stay on the order so that we can buy the time to prepare the appeal,” Witeck said. “Then we will file the appeal post-haste, probably in the next few days.”


Bill Kramer, co-owner of the bookstore, will discuss the battle against the Starr subpoena at a news conference in Washington today. He also will be rallying support for the bookstore’s position in Chicago over the weekend as he attends the annual trade show of the American Booksellers Association, Witeck said.


Although Johnson’s move to limit the scope of Starr’s subpoena means that the special prosecutor would be receiving far less information than he originally requested, “we think anything about our book purchases is a violation of the First Amendment,” Witeck said.


“The independent counsel’s subpoena raises serious questions about the privacy and First Amendment rights of bookstore customers throughout the country,” Witeck said. “Kramerbooks has consistently defended the privacy and First Amendment rights of its customers.”


Starr is investigating whether Lewinsky lied under oath about having a sexual relationship with President Clinton and whether the president or his advisers encouraged her to lie about the relationship.


When the Starr subpoena to Kramerbooks was originally revealed, Carol O’Riordan, the bookstore’s lawyer, said the initial request covered “all documents and things referring or relating to any purchase by Monica Lewinsky” over a 29-month period during which Lewinsky and the president may have been involved.


No details on Judge Johnson’s latest order are available because she has put everything related to the case under seal. “We sought to have everything unsealed, but unfortunately the judge has not done so,” Witeck said.


Although the particular purchases that Starr is interested in have never been officially revealed, The Washington Post reported that one of the books that Lewinsky purchased from Kramerbooks was Vox, a novel about yuppie phone sex written by Nicholson Baker.


Related:

  • Bookstore battles Starr’s demand for sales records 4.14.98
  • Bookstore decides to resist Starr subpoena of Lewinsky records 4.2.98
  • Starr bookstore subpoena disgusts privacy advocates 3.26.98