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 Supreme Court
Two words come to mind when looking back at 2018’s government transparency highlights and lowlights in Colorado. Judicial secrecy.
A brief filed by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and several news and journalism organizations asks the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a First Amendment records case, deemed “vital to Colorado journalism,” that was brought by The Colorado Independent.
By ruling that the First Amendment provides no protection for the public’s right to inspect judicial records, the Colorado Supreme Court confounded some legal experts who worry about the decision’s impact on access to court files in Colorado.
A legislative effort to open records on police internal affairs investigations, or at least encourage their disclosure to the public, died when the Senate sponsor of the bill had it killed in committee.
An amended bill endorsed by the Colorado House no longer opens records on police internal affairs files, but essentially encourages their disclosure once an investigation is complete.
Aurora has agreed to revise its policies on the disclosure of police internal affairs records as part of a lawsuit settlement, but a new court case alleges the city wrongly withheld body-worn camera footage related to a traffic accident involving Denver Police Chief Robert White.
The Denver Department of Public Safety, which includes the police and sheriff’s departments, should publish written guidelines for releasing video of critical incidents such as the 2015 death of jail inmate Michael Marshall, the city’s police monitor recommended this week.
For the third consecutive year, a committee of lawmakers discussed whether the administrative records of the state’s judicial branch should be subject to the Colorado Open Records Act. This time, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee didn’t kill Rep. Polly Lawrence’s proposal as it did in 2016 and 2017. At least not yet.