Case Number: 2015PR30176
Court: Combined Court, Boulder County, Colorado
Client: Shelly Bradbury
Motion Filed: May 11, 2023
Background: In April 2022, climate activist Wynn Bruce died after setting himself on fire outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Bruce’s death garnered substantial news coverage, with national and international media outlets highlighting his life of activism, his commitment to spirituality, and his struggles with mental health.
Shelly Bradbury, a reporter with The Denver Post, obtained emails between Bruce and his friend prior to his death in which he appeared to express concerns about his guardianship arrangement. Bradbury learned that Bruce had been subjected to a guardianship administered by the Boulder County Probate Court since at least 2010.
The issue of individual guardianships and the broader guardianship system has recently been the subject of news coverage, especially concerning pop star Britney Spears’s conservatorship. In Colorado, where a number of recent deaths have spurred scrutiny of adult guardianships in the state, news reporting on the guardianship system has revealed that there is little oversight and a lack of transparency that has shielded the exploitation and abuse of the elderly.
In September 2022, Bradbury asked the Boulder County Probate Court for access to Bruce’s guardianship records. The court denied her request.
On behalf of Bradbury, Rachael Johnson, the Reporters Committee’s Local Legal Initiative attorney for Colorado, and RCFP Legal Fellow Tyler Takemoto filed a motion with the Combined Court of Boulder County seeking an order permitting the reporter to inspect Bruce’s guardianship records.
Quote: “Access [to the records] will enhance the public’s understanding of the guardianship system, which is largely secretive, and serve the public’s interest in knowing how that system may have failed Mr. Bruce.”