Case Number: 2022CV30017
Court: Colorado Court of Appeals
Client: Mark Reaman
Notice of Appeal Filed: July 5, 2022
Background: In March 2022, Mark Reaman, editor of Colorado’s Crested Butte News, filed an open records request with the Gunnison County Library District for all “Requests for Reconsideration” submitted since the beginning of the year. The forms enable members of the public, whether or not they are library users themselves, to suggest that librarians ban or reclassify reading materials deemed inappropriate. Reaman’s request sought completed request forms, including the name of the requestor.
In April, the library asked the Gunnison County District Court whether releasing the forms would violate a privacy statute under the Colorado Open Records Act that prevents the disclosure of records that would identify an individual as having used a public library. The court ordered the library to release the forms, but allowed for the redaction of personal information such as requestor names.
Reaman, represented by Reporters Committee Local Legal Initiative Attorney Rachael Johnson, then appealed the district court’s decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals. He argues that an individual is not a library user by virtue of having submitted the form in question. He also contends that the public has a strong interest in the identities and potential motivations of individuals attempting to effect a change in library policy.
Quote: In a story for the Crested Butte News, Reaman wrote that “the public deserved to know who was asking for such policy changes and whether or not they were even a part of the immediate community that would be impacted by such policy changes.”
Update: On Oct. 5, 2023, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision. On Nov. 13, 2023, Reaman filed a petition asking the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the case. “This case presents a statutory interpretation question of first impression under the Colorado Open Records Act and the Colorado Library Law, with significant implications for the public’s ability to understand an urgent controversy affecting communities across the country,” the petition states. “If left undisturbed, the [lower court’s opinion] will preclude Coloradoans from knowing the identities of persons who request the removal of books and other materials from public library shelves.”
2022-05-16: Order on Application for Public Records
2022-07-05: Notice of Appeal
2022-11-21: Reaman’s opening brief
2022-12-23: Answer brief
2023-11-13: Petition for writ of certiorari