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.
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.
All we want for Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa (besides world peace, an end to the pandemic and less partisan rancor) are better open-government laws for Coloradans.
We didn’t think our story would be an open-and-shut case. Neither did we expect such secrecy from a governmental branch whose purpose is to oversee the implementation of laws and enforce them.
The Colorado Supreme Court moved closer to possibly adopting a statewide standard for guiding judges’ decisions to seal or suppress court records in criminal cases.
A former senior assistant attorney general for Colorado is making a case for a more transparent state system of regulating the legal profession. Comments submitted by Paul Chessin this month to the Colorado Supreme Court call for public disclosure to be “the rule, not the exception.”
With the Colorado Supreme Court library in downtown Denver “closed until further notice” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s judicial branch is finally letting anyone pull up civil case filings on a personal computer at no charge — at least temporarily.