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Colorado Open Records Act & Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act

The Colorado Department of Law (the “Department”) is committed to transparency and open government. The following policy has been developed in order to implement the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”) (sections 24‐72‐201 to 206, C.R.S.) and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (“CCJRA”) (sections 24-72-301 to 309, C.R.S.), in a uniform manner and better serve the people of Colorado. This policy is designed to help the Department balance the statutory requirements of the CORA and the CCJRA and the Attorney General’s constitutional and statutory obligations as Colorado’s chief legal officer. This policy helps ensure the Department complies in all respects with the CORA and the CCJRA and meets all of its constitutional and statutory duties to the People of Colorado in an orderly and expeditious manner. This policy does not apply to records requests received and handled by Department attorneys as part of their representation of client agencies or officials when the custodian of records is not the Department.

Office Procedure for Handling Records Requests

The Department will only accept records requests made in writing or electronically via e‐mail or fax. Requests should be directed to the Director of Communications at the e-mail address or fax number listed on the Department website. The Department will not accept records requests made over the telephone or via social media. Records requests that cite the federal Freedom of Information Act will be treated as though they were made pursuant to the CORA or the CCJRA.

When responding to a request for public records under CORA, the Department will make every effort to respond within three working days as required by section 24‐72‐203(3)(b), C.R.S. The three working‐day response time begins the first working day following receipt of the request. A request received after noon or any day the agency is officially closed will be considered received as of the following working day. The agency may add up to a seven‐working‐day extension if extenuating circumstances apply as described in section 24‐72‐203(3)(b), C.R.S. The Department will provide all findings of extenuating circumstances to the requestor in writing.

Broad, general requests will likely be more costly to the requestor because of the staff time required to fulfill these requests. The Department may contact the requestor in an attempt to clarify or narrow a request. While not required, requestors may want to provide phone and e-mail contact information to facilitate communication regarding the request. The Department has found that searches of paper records may require additional staff time to complete the request. Excluding searches of paper records and providing specific information on the nature of the documents requested, the timeframe the request covers, and other details such as the potential staff who may be affected, can help the Department fulfill the request in a manner that may provide cost savings to the requestor.

Fees

When a substantial request is made — requiring the production of more than 25 pages of documents or more than one hour of staff time to locate or produce records — the Department will charge the requestor for all copying expenses and for staff time in accordance with section 24‐72‐205(5)(a), C.R.S., section 24-72-306, C.R.S., and other applicable law.  Before fulfilling a substantial request, the Department will provide a cost estimate to the requestor. The cost estimate will include the estimated time for staff to search for, retrieve, redact, assemble and transmit the records in accordance with the following table. In extraordinary circumstances, the use of a third party contractor may be necessary and will be discussed with the requestor in advance.

Service

Fee

Making hard copies of documents

$0.25 per page

Non-attorney staff time

$20 per hour

Attorney staff time

$30 per hour

Specialized document production or specialized skills required to fully comply with request

$30 per hour

 

The requestor must approve the cost estimate before the Department will begin work on fulfilling the records request. The Department may require an advance deposit of the expected cost before it will begin completing the request. The timeframe the Department has to complete the request will be tolled between providing the cost estimate to the requestor and the requestor approving the cost estimate or submitting the advance deposit, whichever is applicable.

Costs associated with a request must be paid in full before the Department will produce the records. Payment must be made by check made out to the Department of Law; the Department does not accept credit cards.

Abandoned Requests

If the Department attempts to contact a requestor to clarify a request or discuss the scope of a request and the requestor does not respond within ten business days, the Department will close the request and require the requestor to submit a new records request.

The Department will hold records assembled in response to a CORA or CCJRA request for no more than ten business days after the requestor has been notified that the records are available for inspection or pick-up. The holding period may be shorter for records which are needed for any use. Failure to inspect or pick-up the records within this timeframe will be considered an abandoned request, and the request will be automatically closed.

Criminal Justice Records Requests

CORA requests for criminal justice records will be treated as requests made under the CCJRA. The legislative policy regarding access to criminal justice records under the CCJRA is more limited than access to public records under CORA. The courts have also construed the CCJRA to favor less broad disclosure. The CCJRA creates two categories of records:

  1.  Records of official action. The CCJRA defines an official action as “an arrest; indictment; charging by information; disposition; pretrial or posttrial release from custody; judicial determination of mental or physical condition; decision to grant, order, or terminate probation, parole, or participation in correctional or rehabilitative programs; and any decision to formally discipline, reclassify, or relocate any person under criminal sentence.” Section 24-72-302(7), C.R.S. The records of official action must be open for inspection.
  2. Except for records of official actions, which must be available for inspection, all other criminal justice records may be open for inspection subject to the discretion of the official custodian.  

The Department will not release records under the CCJRA unless the requestor signs a statement affirming that the records will not be used for the direct solicitation of business for pecuniary gain. Section 24-72-305.5, C.R.S.

Additional Information

The Department does not provide legal advice to the general public, nor does it have the authority to determine if another agency or office has improperly denied a CORA or CCJRA request, or to require another agency to turn over records.

Last Updated: September 19, 2018.______

 

Direct requests and any questions regarding this policy to:

Annie Skinner
Public Information Officer/Director of Communications   

 

Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center

1300 Broadway, 10th Floor
Denver, CO 80203
cora.request@coag.gov   

720-508-6553