Gov. Jared Polis’ signature on House Bill 19-1119 unclogged a major blockage in the flow of public information in Colorado by establishing a statewide presumption of openness for records about the job performance of law enforcement officers. Here are some things to know about the bill, which went into effect immediately.
Colorado Open Records Act
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition’s new 30-page “Guide to Colorado’s Open Records and Open Meetings Laws” covers what you need to know about access to information from state agencies and local governments.
Elbert County officials are fighting a pro se lawsuit that challenges the county’s policy of requiring records requesters to show identification.
A bill to open records on completed police internal affairs investigations cleared its first legislative hurdle, passing the House Judiciary Committee on a 7-4 vote.
Two words come to mind when looking back at 2018’s government transparency highlights and lowlights in Colorado. Judicial secrecy.
A judge ruled against a Texas-based consultant who alleged that Colorado’s recently retired securities commissioner violated the Colorado Open Records Act by refusing to fulfill a records request “unless and until” the consultant identified his client.
A district court judge in Delta County ruled that the town of Paonia improperly invoked CORA’s safe harbor clause in a lawsuit against Bill Brunner, a former town trustee who had requested numerous records in 2017. Not only should the town have turned the records over to Brunner, Judge Steven Schultz wrote, he is entitled to be reimbursed for his legal costs and attorney fees because Paonia officials “failed to exercise reasonable diligence or reasonable inquiry” before going ahead with the suit.
With no process for appealing public records denials short of filing a lawsuit, Colorado might want to look at a two-year-old system in Ohio, which lets anyone challenge a denial for a $25 filing fee. The president of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government says residents of his state “now have a fighting chance – no matter their resources or standing” when they believe records are wrongly withheld.
A judge should deny the prosecutors’ motion to keep autopsy reports from the public in the Frederick triple homicide case because the criminal court lacks jurisdiction to decide that question, a media coalition and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition argued.