News organizations in Colorado will soon get some extra legal firepower to fight wrongful denials of access to government records and proceedings.
In a closed-door meeting, a Colorado judicial branch committee is expected to consider a long-awaited new rule on the suppression and sealing of criminal court records.
A bill in the Colorado legislature threatens to significantly weaken the new state law that opened records on completed police internal affairs investigations.
A long-awaited proposed new rule on the sealing and suppression of criminal court records could be ready in January and a public hearing likely will follow, the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court told state lawmakers.
Footage from police body-worn cameras clearly fits the definition of criminal justice records in one of Colorado’s freedom-of-information laws: All materials, including recordings, “made, maintained, or kept” by criminal justice agencies. But some district attorneys are relying on more than the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act to determine whether and when body camera video should be disclosed to the public.
Fewer professional journalists in Colorado – the total dropped nearly 44 percent between 2010 and 2018 – means fewer reporters at government meetings where important civic issues are discussed and decided. But some help may be coming from a three-year-old program that trains and pays people to monitor public officials in Chicago and Detroit.
A free and independent press is fundamental — it is essential — to American democracy at all levels. But knowing that is precisely why Coloradans must begin a conversation about alternative ways to fund local journalism — even ways that involve public dollars.
The state health department could dispose of a former high-ranking employee’s emails because the records retention schedule for state agencies gives officials the discretion to decide which emails are important enough to keep. The Colorado Open Records Act also doesn’t provide any meaningful guidance about the retention of public records.
Actual malice. Autopsy reports. The Columbine killers’ “basement tapes.” Stapleton Development Corp. records. The governor’s cellphone bills. The meetings and records of a county retirement board. Tom Kelley waged court battles over these issues and many more as an attorney for The Denver Post, other news organizations and the Colorado Press Association, steadfastly and expertly defending the public’s right to know and the journalist’s right to report.