June 19, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Governor’s Personal Cell Phone Billing Statements Are Not Public Records under the Colorado Open Records Act

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Denver Post Corp. v. Ritter on June 20, 2011.

Colorado Open Records Act—Public Records—Failure to State a Claim.

The Denver Post Corp. and its reporter Karen Crummy (collectively, the Post) requested access to Governor Bill Ritter’s cell phone billing statements. The Governor provided access to cell phone bills for his state-paid Blackberry device, but refused to provide access to billing statements for his personal cell phone on the ground that those bills are not “public records” under the Colorado Open Records Act, CRS §§ 24-72-201 to -206 (CORA). CORA defines public records as “writings made, maintained, or kept by the state . . . for use in the exercise of functions required or authorized by law.” The Supreme Court held that the Post’s complaint is conclusory in nature and fails to allege facts that, if accepted as true, state a claim that the Governor’s personal cell phone billing statements are likely public records under CORA. Therefore, the burden did not shift to the Governor to demonstrate that the phone bills are not public records under CORA. The judgment was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here.

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