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 passage of an historic, comprehensive police reform bill transformed a relatively quiet 2020 Colorado legislative session for freedom-of-information issues into one of major importance.
Journalists know they may find themselves in harm’s way when they cover volatile events such as the demonstrations we have seen in Denver over the past several days. But it is inexcusable – and a violation of the journalists’ constitutional rights – for law enforcement officers to single them out for attack simply for doing their jobs in chronicling these events.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Colorado Supreme Court will wait until September to convene a public hearing on a long-awaited standard for guiding judges’ decisions to seal or suppress judicial records in criminal cases. In the meantime, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and other groups have submitted written comments on the proposal.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition joined 131 other transparency-minded organizations in urging state, local and tribal governments across the United States “to recommit to, and not retrench from, their duty to include the public in the policy-making process, including policies relating to COVID-19 as well as the routine ongoing functions of governance.”
Colorado Press Association and Colorado Freedom of Information sent the following joint letter to Gov. Jared Polis on March 16 regarding news operations and COVID-19.
State lawmakers voted down a bill to allow civil lawsuits in state courts against Colorado governments for violations of rights enumerated in the Colorado Constitution, including free speech and a free press.
News organizations in Colorado will soon get some extra legal firepower to fight wrongful denials of access to government records and proceedings.
A split screen might be the best way to think about government transparency in Colorado in 2019. On one side is the ground-breaking new state law that opens records on completed police internal affairs investigations. On the other is the trend among law enforcement agencies in our state to encrypt 100 percent of their scanner transmissions.
A Colorado law that criminalizes the public disclosure of child abuse and neglect reports is unconstitutional and protects child welfare workers accused of misconduct, a federal lawsuit alleges.