Highlights from the blog and news feed
Mar. 23, 2015
Newsletter of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, a nonpartisan alliance of groups and individuals dedicated to ensuring the transparency of state and local governments in Colorado by promoting freedom of the press, open courts and open access to government records and meetings.
Video: Sunshine Week panel on getting information from criminal justice records
The Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act isn’t as well known or as well understood as its sister statute, the Colorado Open Records Act. That’s why the CFOIC assembled a panel of experts to discuss the law that governs the release of criminal justice records – and to provide tips and workarounds for getting the records you want.
Commentary: State agencies in Colorado need to upgrade their email retention capabilities
As our friends at the Sunlight Foundation recently wrote, “Our legally-protected access to public email records – the most voluminous source of official written records – is failing.” That’s true here in Colorado.
Bill allowing sealing of misdemeanors for one-time offenders killed in House committee
A bill to let one-time offenders petition to seal the public records of their misdemeanors died in a House committee following opposition from prosecutors, victims’ advocates and law enforcement officials.
House committee tables bill on reporting of school safety violations
Hoping to find a compromise that satisfies school districts and law enforcement agencies, state lawmakers tabled a contentious bill aimed at improving the reporting of safety and disciplinary violations at Colorado schools.
From The Denver Post: Todd Shepherd of CompleteColorado.com recently teamed up with the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, a group dedicated to “protecting the public’s right to know,” to query state agencies regarding their policy toward e-mail retention. The findings are disturbing.
From The Durango Herald: Municipal and county governments and the college have good records in responding to The Durango Herald’s annual request to show that they are operating transparently and are familiar with state law. This year was no different.
Editorial: Public officials can do better at transparency
From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): In the spirit of Sunshine Week, we offer our annual assessment of how well local agencies let the sun shine on their actions and if they’ve run afoul of open-meetings and open-records laws.
Sunshine Week: Gazette's use of records aids in keeping public informed
FromThe Gazette (Colorado Springs): Gazette reporters routinely use public records in the course of their reporting. Here is a sampling of recent stories in which access to public records played a role in the story – or was the story itself. See this story at gazette.com for links to the original stories.
Federal clerks provide inaccurate info on court documents
FromColoradoWatchdog.org: Federal law clearly says that payment vouchers to outside attorneys acting as public defenders should be available to the taxpayers who pay those bills — especially after all legal appeals are exhausted. But when Watchdog.org asked for the vouchers in the case of multiple-convicted-murderer Nathan Dunlap, two employees at the clerk’s office both said those vouchers are never public.
Colorado Springs mayoral candidates weigh in on public records
From the Colorado Springs Independent: In observance of Sunshine Week, which shines a light on transparency in government, we asked the leading four mayoral candidates in the April 7 election what, if any, changes they would make to the city’s requirements for the Colorado Open Records Act.
Father of slain Arapahoe HS student to school district: Provide information, avoid a lawsuit
From The Denver Post:The father of slain Arapahoe High School student Claire Davis is asking Littleton Public Schools to come clean with information about the December 2013 shooting in return for not getting sued, a real possibility given the political will behind legislation that would allow it.
Editorial: Pueblo's email scandal a reason to care about Sunshine Week
From The Pueblo Chieftain: Despite its name, Sunshine Week has nothing to do with the weather. Rather, it’s a national effort to understand, educate about and promote dialogue on the importance of open government. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the freedom of public information.
From the Associated Press: A 2014 Colorado law to cap search fees for open-records requests has led to significant price decreases for the public, with some agencies dropping fees more than a third. But Colorado still has work to do to make more records available digitally, which could reduce costs even further, according to watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch.
Proposed law would allow victims of school violence to sue for information
From The Denver Post: In what would mark a stunning turnaround in Colorado law, a bill to be introduced in the legislature would allow the victims of school violence to sue for damages to force districts to provide information about what led to the mayhem.
Ruling may clarify awarding of attorney fees under CORA
From The Mountain Mail (Salida): A decision by the Colorado Supreme Court in a case involving Chaffee County and voting transparency advocate Marilyn Marks could clarify the issue of awarding attorney fees under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
From the Colorado Springs Independent: The Independent has waited 18 months for a response to a Freedom of Information Act records request in the past from the Air Force Academy. But the experience of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is even more frustrating.
Prosecutors want photos of theater shooting kept from public
From the Associated Press: Prosecutors in the Colorado theater shooting case want a judge to keep the public from seeing graphic autopsy and crime-scene photos during the trial, saying the images would traumatize the families of victims.
Editorial: We hope CORA bill comes back to legislature with amendments
FromThe Greeley Tribune: We sure like the idea of HB 1101, a bill that would place Colorado’s State Public Defender’s Office under the purview of the Colorado Open Records Act. So, while we were happy to hear that Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee shot down the measure recently, we’re hoping that a similar measure rears its head in the future.
FromForbes.com: Unpublished opinions are routinely available from courts across the country, but not from the Colorado Court of Appeals. Although the court may issue 2,000 or more written opinions each year, 75 to 85 percent of them are issued as unpublished opinions and have historically been made available only to the parties in the case.
Editorial: In Jeffco, it's the teacher's union vs. open records
FromThe Denver Post: The fact that Standley Lake High School teachers in September chose to collectively call in sick in protest of school board actions is bad enough. But now the teachers union has been granted a preliminary injunction in district court that bars Jefferson County Public Schools from releasing the names of those absent teachers.
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