County releases secret settlement agreement in suit filed by deputy sheriff
COLORADO — In mid-October, Park County, Colo., released a settlement agreement in a federal suit brought by former Park County deputy Charles Daines against the county. The release of the information, ordered by a federal judge in early August, was delayed until the time for an appeal by the state expired.
After the Park County Republican and the Fairplay Flume asked for a copy of the settlement, the federal magistrate who heard the case decided on his own to seal the agreement, even though neither party to the suit objected to its release. The newspaper sought the information under the Colorado Open Records Act, which requires public officials and entities to reveal terms of a settlement when public funds are involved.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham warned that while it is permissible for a federal magistrate to negotiate confidential settlements, it was improper to promise confidentiality to public entities.
(Petition of Fairplay Flume in Daines v. Harrison; Media Counsel: Thomas Kelley, Denver)