There is new life for CFOIC’s proposal to set a uniform statewide standard for sealing criminal court files in Colorado.
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.
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.
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.
Should state law be changed to limit public access to arrest records of people who never were charged with crimes or haven’t yet been charged? The Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice is exploring that idea, concerned that such records, if they turn up in background checks, can negatively affect peoples’ chances of getting employment or finding housing.
We think Colorado should set a uniform standard for the sealing of court files in criminal cases. The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition recently made a formal request for such a rule to a Colorado Supreme Court committee responsible for proposing Rules of Criminal Procedure applicable in state courts.
There’s only one location where a non-lawyer can view and request copies of all civil court documents from the Integrated Colorado Courts E-Filing System. Attorneys who subscribe to ICCES can look up civil court documents on their laptops, but you can’t. And even though many courthouses have public terminals, those only let you call up civil filings from that particular district.
An El Paso County judge reversed himself and ordered the unsealing of probable cause affidavits related to last November’s shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Supreme Court told the judge in the Planned Parenthood shooting case to reconsider his sealing of court records in light of recent developments.
The judge in the Planned Parenthood shooting case defended his sealing of court records, arguing that news organizations did not have a First Amendment or Colorado constitutional right to inspect the records while the police investigation was ongoing.