Pitkin plans to challenge appeals court decision allowing disclosure of whistleblowers’ identities

From The Aspen Times:  An attorney said Tuesday that Pitkin County plans to challenge a Colorado Court of Appeals decision allowing the identity of whisteblowers in land-use complaints to be disclosed.

County policy protects the names of people who report violations of the land-use code. But that policy was put into jeopardy by an appellate court’s ruling in June, reversing a March 2014 decision by Pitkin County Judge Gail Nichols, who ordered that Red Mountain homeowner Elesabeth R. Shook couldn’t inspect government records revealing the name of someone who complained about an illegal construction project on Shook’s property.

Assistant County Attorney Laura Makar said county commissioners, in a recent private discussion, gave the OK for the county to ask the Colorado Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ ruling.

Makar said the county has until the end of the month to file what’s known as a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.

“The county still has very serious concerns about the release of names of citizens who provide information about county code violations,” Makar said. “These people are potentially going to experience reprisal, and that concerns us greatly.”

Makar said Shook, after filing a Colorado Open Records request with the county, was provided paperwork about the complaint. But three documents — two of which revealed the complainant’s name, the other had attorney-client privilege — were withheld.

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