The Colorado Judicial Branch will avoid open records laws at least for the rest of the year after a last-minute bill to require the department to abide by transparency legislation failed to get leadership approval.
Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, requested a late bill to include the Judicial Department under the Colorado Open Records Act, but he told Watchdog.org Monday he was not able to get leadership to sign off.
“We’re not supposed to have late bills that can only pass one chamber,” Balmer said.
Since the fall, Watchdog.org has published a series of stories exposing how in 2012 the Colorado Court of Appeals decided to exempt the whole judiciary from state open records laws and how judicial officials have steadfastly refused to address that exemption and their records policy despite repeated requests from Watchdog.org.
The judicial department’s public access committee released a draft of internal open records rules last week. While those rules are similar to CORA, they allow the judicial department to withhold key information about staff misconduct and give staff more than twice the amount of time to produce records as allowed under CORA.
Balmer said Republican leaders did not believe a bill could pass because House Bill 15-1101, which would have forced the public defenders’ office to comply with CORA, died in the House Judiciary committee in February.