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James Holmes attorneys' fight to seal public records -- and a damning new report

james.holmes.beard.205x205.jpg
James Holmes.
A new report on access to public records in Colorado scolds state agencies for excessive fees, failing to put records online so more citizens can make use of them, and for "pre-digital age thinking." On the same day, attorneys for James Holmes file a motion in the Aurora theater shootings case, asking the court to remove from its website all filings in the case and seal transcripts of hearings, contending that easy access to such information imperils their client's right to a fair trial. Nice timing, guys.

The juxtaposition highlights the gulf between theory and practice in the way Colorado's open records laws really work -- or don't work. The state's provisions for wide-ranging and prompt access to government information date back to 1969, among the oldest such laws in the country. (The federal Freedom of Information Act dates back to 1966.) But over the years a number of formal revisions to the laws and informal shifts in policy, sometimes ostensibly in the name of greater "transparency," have made it increasingly difficult to obtain not-so-public documents from state agencies in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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From the cover of the Colorado Ethics Watch report.
Although hardly alone in their obstruction, the judicial branch has been particularly keen on frustrating the intentions of the Colorado Open Records Act, or CORA. In recent years, as we've previously reported, fiats from the Colorado Supreme Court and individual judicial districts have restricted, suppressed, or required cumbersome redaction of numerous types of records, from criminal to divorce to probate cases. This has been done in the name of protecting "personal information" from supposed identity thieves and the like; but it also ends up shielding the abuses of the system, such as the predatory actions of unscrupulous guardians and conservators in probate court, from public scrutiny.

The new report from Colorado Ethics Watch, 21st Century Sunshine: Modernizing CORA, complains that the state lags far behind many others in making basic records (such as budget information or even how to file an open records request) available online. Colorado recently got an "F" from the Center for Public Integrity for its public records policies, in part because of its baffling array or research fees and other costs that can be assessed and effectively discourage public record requests.

Continue for more about James Holmes attorneys' fight to seal public records and the damning Colorado Ethics Watch report.


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8 comments
Bradley Crable
Bradley Crable

He would die within an hour if they let Holmes out!

Ron Vigil
Ron Vigil

Joke of a process. This should've been resolved when they found this scum ball in the parking lot--

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

In my opinion, based on many years of working as a mental health professional, I've learned that those that are entitled to access private and confidential mental health records can do so through well-established protocols.  The general public, being too fucking stupid to recognize the most blatant signs & symptoms of psychotic decompensation on repeated occasions, don't need to see these records.  If you're not involved in the fucking trial, get some fucking popcorn & watch the television.  I'm sure many will tune into this trial if allowed.  Many were glued to the Anthony trial like flies on scat.  This will be a rather complicated trial given the circumstances & the fact that the treating psychiatrist was actively involved with "duty to warn" issues. 

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

"Fair" trial. His trial should have over and done with by now.

fognl7
fognl7

@Bradley Crable: Where does the story detail a scenario in which Holmes could be let out?

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

@fognl7 @DeathBreath Well, that was a kind thing to say.  I appreciate the compliment.  Yes, I worked as a mental health professional from 1981 to the recent past.  I finally freed myself from the conventional & unimaginative troglodytes who were so very concerned about proper protocol.  Now, I can say what I wish.  On occasion, I do run into those who scold others for the way I t express myself.    Some of the people I've encountered who designate themselves to be the "word police" tend to be:  a) Christian fundamentalists, including Pastards; b) former public school teachers; c) GOPigs; d) Nuns; & those who have significant control issues and/or Obsessive Compulsive issues.  Again, thanks for the compliment.  

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