In a year that featured plenty of freedom-of-information lowlights, Colorado lawmakers in 2017 provided a welcome ray of sunshine – a helpful new tool in the never-ending quest for government transparency. Senate Bill 17-040, which modernized the Colorado Open Records Act, was one of many topics featured on CFOIC’s blog and news feed in 2017.
The city of Aurora’s “blanket policy” of denying open records requests for police internal affairs files, apparently without regard to the facts and circumstances of each request, violates Colorado’s criminal justice records law, a lawsuit alleges.
In a terse letter, a committee of the Colorado Supreme Court has rejected CFOIC’s call for a uniform standard for sealing court files in criminal cases. More than a year ago, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition asked the state court system to adopt such a rule, noting that disputes over the closure of records in high-profile criminal cases often focus not just on whether records should be sealed, but on the appropriate legal standard to apply in making that determination.
When a charter school board in Pagosa Springs agreed last month to release the audio recording of a closed-door meeting, it was the second time in less than two years that the local newspaper successfully challenged an apparent violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML) – without going to court.
It was an eye-opening story for our viewers: A FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation found that the Colorado Division of Gaming has been charging casino customers with crimes for playing very small credits left on slot machines. But even more startling was how much money the Gilpin County court system wanted to charge for providing open records on such cases.
The terms of a settlement agreement between two liquor retailers embroiled in an open-records dispute won’t be disclosed, but the owner of Hazel’s Beverage World in Boulder said he’s “extremely pleased” by the outcome.
The Colorado Open Records Act defines public records to include “all writings made, maintained, or kept” by government or agency. But are records related to a government-issued cellphone disclosable under CORA if the city has access to them but doesn’t maintain them?
Wheat Ridge liquor retailer Applejack Wine & Spirits and the owner of Hazel’s Beverage World in Boulder have settled their open-records dispute, according to court documents, but the settlement remains confidential for now.
Journalists say Senate Bill 17-040 generally seems to be working as intended, even if some records custodians have to be reminded about the law change and some have taken much longer than three working days to fill requests. The sample size is small, but early tests of the new law are encouraging.
A provision in House Bill 17-1204, signed by the governor in May, will prohibit the public disclosure of a juvenile’s name, birth date or photograph if he or she is charged with a serious crime.