Coroner requests steep fee for public records

From The Cortez Journal:  The Cortez Journal is challenging what it considers to be an unwarranted fee request for public records.

Montezuma County Coroner Charlie Rosenbaugh has sought a $15 administrative fee for a copy of an autopsy report. Under Colorado open-records laws, autopsy reports are considered public records, and officials are prohibited from charging more than 25 cents per page for copies of such records.

The sought-after autopsy report from Rosenbaugh is for an inmate who died while in custody at the Montezuma County jail. A two-page preliminary report reveals Harrison M. Begay, 38, of Tonalea, Ariz., died inside holding cell four at the jail on Sunday, Oct. 27. He was the second inmate to die while in the sheriff’s custody in four months.

The preliminary sheriff’s report reveals that Begay was discovered inside the cell unconscious and not breathing about 3 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27. The same report indicates that deputies last checked on Begay about five-and-half hours earlier, about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell originally reported via his Facebook page that Begay was brought into the jail on a charge of trespassing about 1 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. Spruell said the inmate was “highly intoxicated” at the time, so he was transported to the hospital for a medical clearance.

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