Colorado Press Association and Colorado Freedom of Information sent the following joint letter to Gov. Jared Polis on March 16 regarding news operations and COVID-19.
Colorado Press Association
State lawmakers voted down a bill to allow civil lawsuits in state courts against Colorado governments for violations of rights enumerated in the Colorado Constitution, including free speech and a free press.
News organizations in Colorado will soon get some extra legal firepower to fight wrongful denials of access to government records and proceedings.
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.
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.
It’s unlikely we would have this important new law without research conducted by University of Denver Sturm College of Law professor Margaret Kwoka and DU law students Bridget DuPey and Christopher McMichael, each of whom received the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition joined other organizations in urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to affirm the public’s First Amendment right to record police.
There was no need to wait for final adjournment to see that the 2019 Colorado legislative session was a productive one for freedom of information and First Amendment-related issues. Gov. Jared Polis cinched that on April 12, when he signed into law a groundbreaking transparency bill that ensures the public disclosure of records on police internal affairs investigations.
A bill that would protect Coloradans from meritless lawsuits intended to silence criticism won approval in a committee of the state legislature.
Major transparency legislation signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis will let journalists and the public obtain records that show how law enforcement agencies in Colorado police themselves.