Law limiting access to crime records upheld
COLORADO — A federal appeals court upheld a state law in mid-April that limits public access to some criminal justice records.
Lanphere & Urbaniak, a Colorado Springs law firm that specializes in traffic and criminal cases, sought access to the names and addresses of individuals arrested for drunken driving and traffic violations for use in direct mail advertising. The firm challenged the constitutionality of a 1992 law that prohibits the release of criminal justice records for the purpose of soliciting business for pecuniary gain.
In June 1992 the firm sued the state in U.S. District Court in Denver, arguing that the statute violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The court granted summary judgment for the state in November 1992.
In December, the firm appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver (10th Cir.) raising the constitutional challenge.
The state countered that the case involved a right of access to records and did not implicate the First Amendment.
The court ruled in mid-April, that although the statute was a content-based restriction on commercial speech, it was a proper content-based restriction on commercial speech under Central Hudson v. Public Service Commission. In that 1980 case, the U.S. Supreme Court established a four prong test: the speech must concern a lawful activity and not be misleading; the governmental interest asserted to be served by the restriction on commercial speech is substantial; the restriction directly advances the governmental interest asserted and the restriction is not more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest. (Lanphere & Urbaniak v. Colorado)