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?
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.
Colorado Ethics Watch is closing its doors after 11 years of helping Coloradans hold public officials accountable and winning some significant battles for government transparency in the state legislature and in court.
Can documents provided in response to a public records request be clawed back and their use restricted if they may have been disclosed by mistake? That question is central to a court fight involving two Colorado liquor stores, Applejack Wine & Spirits in Wheat Ridge and Hazel’s Beverage World in Boulder.
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.
Now that Senate Bill 17-040 is in effect, ensuring your right under the Colorado Open Records Act to obtain digital public records in useful file formats, the state senator who introduced the legislation is considering an open data bill as the next logical step.
Under the Colorado Open Records Act, “any person” is entitled to inspect public records unless CORA or another state law allows the withholding of those records. If government records are disclosable to the public under the law, they should be made available to anyone who requests them.
Happy birthday to us – and a shout-out to some of Colorado’s original freedom-of-information fighters. Thirty years ago, on Aug. 3, 1987, 24 representatives of various news and public-interest organizations gathered at the Denver Press Club to create a state Freedom of Information Council, the entity now known as the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
It’s been on the books since the state legislature adopted the Colorado Open Records Act nearly a half-century ago: Anyone who “willfully and knowingly” violates the statute is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. But on Aug. 9, when Senate Bill 17-040 goes into effect, the criminal penalty in CORA will disappear.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition sent a letter to James Holmes, via his former attorney, asking him to authorize the public defender’s office to make its expenditure information public.