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24-72-201. Legislative declaration.

Statute text

It is declared to be the public policy of this state that all public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, except as provided in this part 2 or as otherwise specifically provided by law.


Source: L. 68: p. 201, 1. C.R.S. 1963: 113-2-1.





Open records act creates a general presumption in favor of public access to government documents, exceptions to the act must be narrowly construed, and an agreement by a governmental entity that information in public records will remain confidential is insufficient to transform a public record into a private one. Daniels v. City of Commerce City, 988 P.2d 648 (Colo. App. 1999).

While the statute favors access to records, CORA does not require public disclosure of all documents in the custody of state employees or agencies. Mountain-Plains Inv. v. Parker Jordan Metro. Dist., 2013 COA 123, 312 P.3d 260.

Nothing in the expressions of public policy in the law concerning the operation of school boards and in the open records act conclusively directs that the terms of a settlement agreement between an outgoing school superintendent and a school district, which allude to unadjudicated allegations of sexual harassment against the superintendent, must categorically be subject to public inspection. Pierce v. St. Vrain Valley Sch. Dist., 981 P.2d 600 (Colo. 1999).

Courts guided by legislative intent in construing provisions. In construing the open records provisions, the courts are guided by the clear legislative intent manifested in the declaration of policy and the language of the provisions themselves. Denver Publ'g Co. v. Dreyfus, 184 Colo. 288, 520 P.2d 104 (1974).

Court considers and weighs public interest. The limiting language making certain of the open records provisions applicable except as "otherwise provided by law" is a reference to the rules of civil procedure and expresses the legislative intent that a court should consider and weigh whether disclosure would be contrary to the public interest. Martinelli v. District Court, 199 Colo. 163, 612 P.2d 1083 (1980).

Construction of open records law. Open records law is a general act and will not be interpreted to repeal a conflicting special provision unless the intent to do so is clear and unmistakable. Uberoi v. Univ. of Colo., 686 P.2d 785 (Colo. 1984) (decided prior to 1985 enactment of 24-72-202 (1.5)).

Section clearly eliminates any requirement that a person must show a special interest in order to be permitted access to particular public records. Denver Publ'g Co. v. Dreyfus, 184 Colo. 288, 520 P.2d 104 (1974); Anderson v. Home Ins. Co., 924 P.2d 1123 (Colo. App. 1996).

The open records act does not expressly limit access to any records merely because a person is engaged in litigation with the public agency from which access to records is requested. People v. Interest of A.A.T., 759 P.2d 853 (Colo. App. 1988).

The general assembly could have enacted a "pending litigation" exception to bar litigants in pending cases against a public entity from obtaining documents relevant to the litigation from the public entity through a CORA request, but the general assembly did not do so. Absent such an exception, CORA does not prevent an individual from obtaining documents from a public entity even if the individual sought the records in connection with pending litigation against the public entity. Roane v. Archuleta, 2022 COA 143, __ P.3d __.

Official is unauthorized to deny access in absence of specific statutory provision. This section establishes the basic premise that in the absence of a specific statute permitting the withholding of information, a public official has no authority to deny any person access to public records. Denver Publ'g Co. v. Dreyfus, 184 Colo. 288, 520 P.2d 104 (1974).

Vital statistics records held confidential and exempt from right to inspect. Eugene Cervi & Co. v. Russell, 31 Colo. App. 525, 506 P.2d 748 (1972), aff'd, 184 Colo. 282, 519 P.2d 1189 (1974).

Police personnel files and staff investigation reports not exempt from discovery. The open records provisions do not, ipso facto, exempt the personnel files and the staff investigation bureau reports of the Denver police department from discovery in civil litigation. Martinelli v. District Court, 199 Colo. 163, 612 P.2d 1083 (1980).

Applied in City & County of Denver v. District Court, 199 Colo. 303, 607 P.2d 985 (1980).