July 19, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel is Part of Judicial Branch and Is Not Subject to the Colorado Open Records Act

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Gleason, Supreme Court Regulation Counsel v. Judicial Watch, Inc. on April 26, 2012.

Colorado Open Records Act—Colorado Judicial Branch.

Both petitioner, the Supreme Court Regulation Counsel, and the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (collectively, regulation counsel) and respondent, Judicial Watch, Inc., appealed the trial court’s order granting most of respondent’s request for records and denying the rest. The order was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded.

Judicial Watch requested that regulation counsel grant it access to certain records under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA). The records pertained to the appointment of regulation counsel by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, at the request of the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, to investigate the conduct of lawyers in Arizona. Regulation counsel denied Judicial Watch’s request.

Regulation counsel asserted that the trial court erred in granting any of Judicial Watch’s request for records. Regulation counsel is subject to the direction of the Supreme Court, and participates in the process of regulating attorneys. Thus, regulation counsel is part of Colorado’s Judicial Branch of government. CORA does not include the judiciary within the terms “state” and “state agency.” Because regulation counsel is part of the Judicial Branch, it likewise is not part of the state or a state agency for the purposes of CORA. Therefore, the trial court erred when it concluded that CORA governed Judicial Watch’s request for regulation counsel’s records and that those records must be disclosed under CORA. The case was remanded to the trial court to enter an order denying Judicial Watch’s entire request.

Summary and full case available here.

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