Zansberg: Focus on ‘surgical’ solution to ‘gotcha’ litigation

The Durango Herald: Bad facts make bad law. This phrase usually describes judicial ruling, but it will aptly apply to the Legislature if it were to foolishly adopt House Bill 1295.

Last December, The Durango Herald and The Journal called out Matt Roane, an attorney in Pagosa Springs, for his business model of suing – or threatening to sue – more than 45 school districts across the state, in his own name, for violating a provision of the Colorado Open Meetings Law that requires all “local public bodies,” including school boards, to publicly announce the topic of a proposed “executive session” discussion (i.e. behind closed doors) with as much specificity as possible without undermining the purpose of that nonpublic discussion.

Roane’s practice is to settle these suits for a standard “fee” of $3,750. As president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, I was quoted in that column expressing my concern that Roane’s unsavory business tactics might someday prompt lawmakers to amend the COML and roll back the salutary transparency it provides all Coloradans.

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