Colorado Independent asks Colorado Supreme Court to re-hear its request to unseal records

The Colorado Independent: The Colorado Independent is asking the state Supreme Court to re-hear its request to unseal records about prosecutorial misconduct in the capital case against Sir Mario Owens.

The court denied The Independent’s unsealing request on June 11, and the petition filed Wednesday seeks a reconsideration of that decision.

The basis for the opinion written by Justice Melissa Hart was that “unfettered access” to criminal justice records is isn’t guaranteed by either the First Amendment or Colorado’s Constitution.

But The Independent wants the court to reconsider because it fundamentally misunderstood the scope of the records it sought.

“We did not in fact ask for ‘unfettered access’ to ‘any and all’ court records of public concern, as the opinion asserts,” said Editor Susan Greene. “Instead, we asked for four records in particular, including a transcript of a closed-door hearing in a capital murder case. And if a judge is going to deny that request, we expect a reasoned, fact-based explanation.”

Wednesday’s petition, filed for The Independent by First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg of the Ballard Spahr law firm, reads: “In rejecting what it perceived to be (The Independent’s) argument — that the First Amendment guarantees ‘absolute’ public access to all court records, without exception — the Court held that the First Amendment does not apply at all to the question [of] whether court records should be released to the public or may be maintained under seal.”

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