Colorado Court of Appeals rules for Bjornsen

Left Hand Valley Courier: Government officials in Colorado will have to be more transparent about closed-door executive sessions and other internal communications after the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Boulder County violated the state’s sunshine laws during the debate over development of the Twin Lakes Open Space.

In a published opinion released in April, the appellate court reversed key portions of two rulings made by Boulder District Court Judge Thomas Mulvahill against Gunbarrel resident Kristin Bjornsen, who sued the Board of Commissioners and Boulder County Housing Authority in February 2017 alleging breaches of both the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and Open Meetings Law (COML).

In finding for Bjornsen, a three-member panel headed by Judge Karen Ashby ruled that the commissioners’ practice of convening “emergency” executive sessions and then notifying the public retroactively was a violation of the COML, which requires such closed-door meetings to be announced beforehand. The appellate court further found that the county violated CORA by misapplying “work product” exemptions to certain internal documents related to Twin Lakes and withholding them from public scrutiny. Those documents, as well as some others that the court ruled were improperly redacted, were ordered to be released by the county right away.

To say this was welcome news for Bjornsen would be a bit of an understatement.

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