Editorial: In defense of open records

From The Pueblo Chieftain: The public’s right to know should be the guiding light for passing legislation requiring the State Public Defender’s Office to comply with the Colorado Open Records Act.

We urge the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to support House Bill 1101, which is up for a hearing at the state Capitol this afternoon, to make sure the public defender does, indeed, come under the Open Records Act. As it should.

The reason there’s any confusion about this is that the State Public Defender’s Office, headed by former Pueblo public defender Douglas Wilson, has unilaterally declared itself to be exempt from the Open Records Act. This self-serving position was cited, in part, to deny requests from journalists for how much is being spent to keep Aurora theater shooter James Holmes from the death penalty.

Because the Public Defender’s Office is part of the Judicial Department, it claims to fit under a 2012 Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that the judiciary is not defined as a “state agency” under the Open Records Act.

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