The indisputably terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year 2020 ended with at least one bright spot in Colorado: On Dec. 17, the state Supreme Court formally adopted a new Rule of Criminal Procedure (Colo.R.Cr.P. 55.1) that sets both procedural and substantive standards for when a trial judge may “suppress” judicial records on file in criminal cases.
Some Colorado journalists were surprised and disappointed in early January to see that the fee for a statewide search on CoCourts.com had jumped from $7 to $10.
The RTD board’s bylaws do require that each member file a financial interest disclosure form with the district. But the agency initially denied my request for copies of those forms, citing the personnel files exemption in the Colorado Open Records Act.
On Jan. 15, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Colorado Capitol Press Association, Colorado Press Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Colorado News Collaborative, Society of Professional Journalists…
An unarmed Black man is brutally murdered by police, who are utterly indifferent to his repeated pleas for restraint. First the people in that city, then across the nation (and, eventually, across the globe) take to the streets. They demand justice. They demand accountability. And they call upon the police, not only in that city but across the nation, to reform their practices, to eliminate racial profiling and overly aggressive militaristic responses, and to become more transparent — including by publicly releasing body-worn camera recordings of police-public confrontations.
A judge ordered Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s office to publicly disclose all but four pages of withheld emails about an advisory group formed to examine single-family housing rules.
A judge recently ordered the public disclosure of a school board executive session recording because board members did not take an “affirmative vote” before convening the private online meeting, as the Colorado Open Meetings Law requires.
Free remote access to civil court records for all Coloradans has been a rare positive outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we applaud the Colorado Judicial Branch for taking that important step.
COVID-19 touched nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020 so of course it affected government transparency and public access to courts in Colorado.
The Colorado Supreme Court’s adoption of a statewide standard for sealing and suppressing court records in criminal cases “is an extremely positive development that increases transparency and builds public trust in our judicial branch,” said Steve Zansberg, a First Amendment attorney and president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.