Editorial: Open judicial records

From The Pueblo Chieftain:  The Colorado Supreme Court will conduct a hearing Thursday in Denver to consider rules governing open records for the state’s Judicial Branch and its 4,000 employees.

In 2012, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the judiciary is not defined as a “state agency” under the Colorado Open Records Act. It was a ridiculous decision. Of course, the judiciary, which includes the courts, probation and related offices, is taxpayer-funded as a traditional part of state government.

The court’s self-serving decision became even more controversial after the state public defender hid behind it to deny a freedom of information request about how much public money was spent on keeping infamous Aurora theater shooter James Holmes from the death penalty.

Yet, rather than fix it, the Colorado Supreme Court’s proposed open records rules may perpetuate the problem by carving out seemingly open-ended exceptions for the court system that are not afforded the rest of state government.

Stepping into the breach, the Colorado Press Association, with more than 150 newspapers; the Colorado Broadcasters Association, with 35 television and 207 radio stations; and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition have submitted critical comments and recommended changes to the rules for Thursday’s hearing.

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