The operator of a college basketball tournament alleges in a lawsuit that the University of Northern Colorado and an athletic department official violated the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) by denying access to text messages from the official’s personal cellphone.
public records request
Following up on a 2018 study showing that Colorado law enforcement departments regularly reject requests for internal affairs files, a University of Denver law student found that agencies in several other states have no problem disclosing such records to the public.
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.
Legislation that limits public access to the records of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority won the support of a committee of state lawmakers.
Citing two Colorado Supreme Court decisions, a judge has ordered the Aurora Police Department to produce a written analysis of “pertinent factors” it did not weigh before rejecting an open records request for an internal affairs investigative file.
The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission, which investigates allegations of ethical misconduct involving public officials, is writing its own rules of access to public records that differ in many respects from the Colorado Open Records Act.
The city of Aurora’s “blanket policy” of denying open records requests for police internal affairs files, apparently without regard to the facts and circumstances of each request, violates Colorado’s criminal justice records law, a lawsuit alleges.
The Colorado Open Records Act defines public records to include “all writings made, maintained, or kept” by government or agency. But are records related to a government-issued cellphone disclosable under CORA if the city has access to them but doesn’t maintain them?
Wheat Ridge liquor retailer Applejack Wine & Spirits and the owner of Hazel’s Beverage World in Boulder have settled their open-records dispute, according to court documents, but the settlement remains confidential for now.
Journalists say Senate Bill 17-040 generally seems to be working as intended, even if some records custodians have to be reminded about the law change and some have taken much longer than three working days to fill requests. The sample size is small, but early tests of the new law are encouraging.