Public may never know true theater trial cost

From 9NEWS (Denver):  The state may never know how much what is already being called the costliest trial in Colorado history in part because those who are defending James Holmes decline to release how much public money they are spending to defend him, according to an investigation by 9Wants to Know.

Based on the little information released to the media, the theater trial case is already costing at least $1.5 million.

The Colorado Public Defender’s Office has routinely turned down all requests, from journalists and legislators alike, seeking information on how much the office is spending to defend people like the man who killed 12 inside an Aurora movie theater in 2012.

On Thursday, a pair of state legislators will attempt to convince members of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to open up the Public Defender’s Office to general public scrutiny, something that office has been able to avoid for years.

Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) and Rep. Polly Lawrence (R-Littleton) sponsored House Bill 1101 after 9Wants to Know brought the issue to the legislature.

9Wants to Know started sending out open-records requests in spring 2014 seeking more information on the cost of implementing the death penalty in Colorado. For months, the Colorado Public Defender’s Office denied 9Wants to Know’s requests citing two court decisions that exempt the office from having to comply with the Colorado Open Records Act.

Those two cases, Office of the State Court Administrator v. Background Information Services (from 1999) and Gleason v. Judicial Watch (from 2012), allow any office within the state’s judicial branch to deny CORA requests.

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