Editorial: CORA should guide rules for judicial branch records

From Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs):  Due to a 2012 court decision in the Gleason v. Judicial Watch case, Colorado’s judicial branch is no longer subject to the Colorado Open Records Act that allows public access to records that provide information about how taxpayer-funded agencies operate.

With no rules regulating public access to judicial branch records in place, the Colorado Supreme Court plans to remedy this void by adopting a set of rules that will establish new guidelines for determining public access to the judicial department’s administrative records. A hearing on these new rules will be held Thursday, in Denver.

Sections of the proposed rules differ materially from the tenets laid out in CORA and do not provide adequate public access to information the public deserves to know about the judicial branch functions. And this is why the Steamboat Today is joining hundreds of news organizations across the state in asking the Supreme Court to take another look at the proposed rules and amend them appropriately to ensure the public and the press have proper access to information about activities of this important branch of state government.

The Colorado Press Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition have banded together to file formal comments about the proposed rules with the state Supreme Court, and Thursday, attorney Steve Zansberg, who also serves as CFOIC president, will speak at the hearing about the proposed rules on behalf of the state’s major media organizations.

We think it is misguided for the state’s judicial branch to create a new set of standards regulating openness and transparency that differ from CORA, which the courts routinely uphold in cases involving the legislative and executive branches of government. Based on the substance of the rules proposed by the courts, it would appear the state’s judicial leaders think they should be bound by lesser standards when it comes to public openness and accountability than the state’s other two branches.

Visit Steamboat Today for more.

Subscribe to Our Blog