Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition president Steve Zansberg and Denver Post investigative reporter David Migoya are co-recipients of this year’s First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Colorado Pro Chapter for work that prompted a new statewide standard for sealing and suppressing criminal court records.
Colorado judicial branch
Some Colorado journalists were surprised and disappointed in early January to see that the fee for a statewide search on CoCourts.com had jumped from $7 to $10.
Free remote access to civil court records for all Coloradans has been a rare positive outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we applaud the Colorado Judicial Branch for taking that important step.
COVID-19 touched nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020 so of course it affected government transparency and public access to courts in Colorado.
We didn’t think our story would be an open-and-shut case. Neither did we expect such secrecy from a governmental branch whose purpose is to oversee the implementation of laws and enforce them.
With the Colorado Supreme Court library in downtown Denver “closed until further notice” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s judicial branch is finally letting anyone pull up civil case filings on a personal computer at no charge — at least temporarily.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Colorado Supreme Court will wait until September to convene a public hearing on a long-awaited standard for guiding judges’ decisions to seal or suppress judicial records in criminal cases. In the meantime, the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and other groups have submitted written comments on the proposal.
A bipartisan bill in the Colorado legislature would require the state’s judicial branch to publish higher-court opinions online in a searchable format and at no cost to the public.
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.
Unlike a year ago, when state lawmakers improved access to public records, the 2018 session of the Colorado General Assembly was marked by the passage of legislation that will significantly hinder the public’s right to know if it’s signed into law.