Colorado Independent v. District Court

October 26, 2018

The Reporters Committee and 47 media organizations filed an amici brief in support of The Colorado Independent's petition for cert to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case addressing whether a qualified First Amendment right of access applies to criminal court records. The Colorado Independent sought access to sealed court records and a sealed transcript related to post-conviction motions in a capital murder case.  The trial court denied the newspaper's motion to unseal, and the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there is no First Amendment right of access to criminal court records.  The brief urges the Supreme Court to grant cert and reverse the Colorado Supreme Court's decision.  The brief emphasizes that the Colorado Supreme Court's decision, if permitted to stand, would negatively impact journalists, book authors, and documentarians, and therefore the public.  The brief emphasizes that access to court records facilitates the news media's role as "surrogates" of the public and that the right of access to court records has traditionally encouraged trust in the judiciary and guarded against governmental abuses.