July 18, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Fee and Cost Award Mandated by Statute when District Court Orders Inspection of Public Records

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Benefield v. Colorado Republican Party on Monday, June 30, 2014.

CRS § 24-72-204(5)—Records—Costs and Fees.

Benefield and other current or former members of the Colorado House of Representatives sought review of the court of appeals’ judgment in Colorado Republican Party v. Benefield (Colo.App. No. 10CA2327, Nov. 10, 2011), which reversed the district court’s order denying costs and attorney fees for the Colorado Republican Party. After assessing the extent to which the Party prevailed overall in its action for inspection of public records, the district court determined that it was not a “prevailing applicant” within the meaning of CRS § 24-72-204(5). The court of appeals reversed, reasoning that a prevailing applicant was “any party who brings a section 24-72-204(5) action against a public records custodian and obtains any improperly withheld public record as a result of such action.”

The Supreme Court affirmed. CRS § 24-72-204(5), when properly construed, mandates an award of costs and reasonable attorney fees in favor of any person who applies for and receives an order from the district court requiring a custodian to permit inspection of a public record, as provided for by the statute.

Summary and full case available here.

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