Like last year, court rulings dominate CFOIC’s 2022 list of transparency highs and lows, with perhaps the most closely watched decision coming nearly three weeks after a shooter killed five people and wounded more than a dozen others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19.
What’s your favorite (or should we say least favorite) example from the past two or three years of someone blatantly obstructing the public’s right to know in Colorado? It could involve a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request, a Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA) request, access to a meeting under the Colorado Open Meetings Law, or access to the court system.
With civil court records now free to access online in Colorado, the state may soon also post the text of high-court opinions — going back to statehood — in a searchable format and at no cost to the public.
Court rulings top CFOIC’s 2021 list of Colorado transparency highlights and lowlights, with the most impactful paving the way for a state law change that lets governments publicly name just one finalist for chief executive positions like university president, city manager and school superintendent.
Bookmark it. Use it. Share it. For the first time, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s sunshine laws guide is online — searchable and indexed by topic — with links to pertinent statutes and case law.
The rule has been in effect since May 10, so it was surprising to see a judge issue a one-word order temporarily sealing all documents in a felony menacing case against Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Mark Thompson. “GRANTED” is all Judge Paul Dunkelman wrote. His order did not contain any of the specific findings required by Rule 55.1, nor did it set a date certain for terminating the order.
The 130-page arrest affidavit for Barry Morphew, who is accused of murdering his wife Suzanne Morphew in 2020, will remain sealed for now.
Free online access to civil court records — a positive outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic — will continue, even though the Colorado Supreme Court law library in downtown Denver has reopened to the public.
Several Colorado news organizations have asked a Chaffee County District Court judge to reconsider his June 4 order sealing the 130-page arrest warrant affidavit for Barry Morphew, who is accused of murdering his wife, Suzanne Morphew, in 2020.
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition president Steve Zansberg and Denver Post investigative reporter David Migoya are co-recipients of this year’s First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Colorado Pro Chapter for work that prompted a new statewide standard for sealing and suppressing criminal court records.