Zansberg: A call to citizens to hold governments accountable

From The Denver Post:  Two court rulings last week speak loudly about the power of public information in a democracy.

The Illinois Court of Appeals said the city of Chicago must make available for public inspection reports of alleged police brutality and other acts of official misconduct by Chicago police. The court reaffirmed a 2009 Illinois Supreme Court ruling that police officers have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” with respect to internal-affairs investigation files that focus on their on-duty conduct, and that the public is entitled to monitor how law enforcement agencies police their own ranks.

Colorado courts, both state and federal, similarly have found that government records discussing allegations of official misconduct by public employees are not “personnel files” or otherwise “private” documents that can be shielded from public inspection.

Also last week, a Denver District Court judge upheld the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission’s finding that Secretary of State Scott Gessler violated state law when he used taxpayer funds to attend a political event in Florida. The successful challenge to Gessler’s improper and unlawful conduct, undertaken by Colorado Ethics Watch, was made possible by public records that documented his wrongdoing.

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