Colorado Open Records Act & Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act
The Denver District Attorney’s Office (the “Office”) is committed to transparency and open government. The following policy has been developed in order to implement the Colorado Open Records Act (“CORA”) (sections 24‐72‐201 to 206, C.R.S.) and the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (“CCJRA”) (sections 24-72-301 to 309, C.R.S.), in a uniform manner and better serve the people of Colorado. This policy is designed to help the Office balance the statutory requirements of the CORA and the CCJRA and the Denver District Attorney’s constitutional and statutory obligations. This policy helps ensure the Office complies in all respects with the CORA and the CCJRA and meets all of its constitutional and statutory duties to the People of Denver in an orderly and expeditious manner. This policy does not apply to records requests when the custodian of records is not the Office.
Because the District Attorney’s Office is a criminal justice agency, most of its records will be criminal justice records, and therefore records requests will generally fall under the provisions of the CCJRA. Criminal justice records for a specific case are not subject to release until after the case has been closed, when no further court action is pending. The recommended response times in CORA are not applicable to records covered by the CCJRA. Further, under CCJRA, with the exception of records of “official action,” as defined by statute, the disclosure of other criminal justice records is at the discretion of the custodian, and may be denied where the custodian believes disclosure would be contrary to the public interest.
Office Procedure for Handling Records Requests
The Office will only accept records requests made in writing or electronically via e‐mail or fax. Requests should be directed to the e-mail address or fax number listed on the Office website, with a notation that the communication constitutes a request for records. The Office will not accept records requests made online, over the telephone or via social media. Records requests that cite the federal Freedom of Information Act will be treated as though they were made pursuant to the CORA or the CCJRA (depending on the nature of the records being requested).
The length of time needed to respond to requests for criminal justice records governed by CCJRA will often take longer and will depend upon the nature of the request. The District Attorney's Office receives a large number of criminal justice records requests each year. Many of these requests require time-consuming review and most require redactions. For these reasons, and depending upon the amount of records requested, criminal justice records requests may take weeks and even months to process.
The requesting party will be notified if the requested records are not available, if the records are not covered by CORA, or they will not be released under CCJRA.
A request received after noon or any day the Office is officially closed will be considered received as of the following working day. For CORA requests, the Office may add up to a seven‐working‐day extension if extenuating circumstances apply as described in section 24‐72‐203(3)(b), C.R.S. The Office will provide all findings of extenuating circumstances to the requestor in writing.
Broad, general requests will likely be more costly to the requestor because of the staff time required to fulfill these requests. The Office may contact the requestor in an attempt to clarify or narrow a request. While not required, requestors may want to provide phone and e-mail contact information to facilitate communication regarding the request. The Office has found that searches of paper records may require additional staff time to complete the request. Excluding searches of paper records and providing specific information on the nature of the documents requested, the timeframe of the documents requested, and other details such as the potential staff who may be affected, can help the Office fulfill the request in a manner that may provide cost savings to the requestor.
The District Attorney’s Office is not required to create reports or compilations of computerized data or to modify existing records in order to create a new record in response to a records request.
When a substantial request is made, which the Office considers to be a request requiring the production of more than 25 pages of documents or more than two hours of staff time to locate or produce records, the Office will charge the requestor for all copying expenses and for staff time in accordance with section 24‐72‐205(5)(a),(6) C.R.S., section 24-72-306(1), C.R.S., and other applicable law. Before fulfilling a substantial request, the Office will provide a cost estimate to the requestor. The cost estimate will include the estimated time for staff to search for, retrieve, redact, assemble and transmit the records in accordance with the following table. In extraordinary circumstances, the use of a third party contractor may be necessary and will be discussed with the requestor in advance.
|Making hard copies of documents||$0.25 per page|
|$33 per hour|
|$33 per hour|
For large requests, the Office may require the requestor to approve the cost estimate before beginning work on fulfilling the records request. The Office may require an advance deposit of the expected cost before it will begin completing the request. For CORA requests, the timeframe the Office has to complete the request will be tolled between providing the cost estimate to the requestor and the requestor approving the cost estimate or submitting the advance deposit, whichever is applicable.
Costs associated with a request must be paid in full before the Office will produce the records. Payment must be made by check or money order made out to the Denver District Attorney’s Office. The Office does not accept cash, credit cards or any other forms of electronic payment.
If the Office attempts to contact a requestor to clarify a request or discuss the scope of a request and the requestor does not respond within ten business days, the Office will close the request and require the requestor to submit a new records request.
The Office will hold records assembled in response to a CORA or CCJRA request for no more than ten business days after the requestor has been notified that the records are available for inspection or pick-up. Failure to inspect or pick-up the records within this timeframe will be considered an abandoned request, and the request will be automatically closed.
Criminal Justice Records Requests
All requests for criminal justice records, as set forth in section 24-72-302, C.R.S., will be treated as requests made under the CCJRA. The legislative policy regarding access to criminal justice records under the CCJRA is more limited than access to public records under CORA. The CCJRA encompasses two categories of records:
- Records official action, defined by § 24-72-302(7), C.R.S., as records of “an arrest; indictment; charging by information; disposition; pretrial or post trial release from custody; judicial determination of mental or physical condition; decision to grant, order, or terminate probation, parole, or participation in correctional or rehabilitative programs; and any decision to formally discipline, reclassify, or relocate any person under criminal sentence.”
- Criminal justice records, defined by §24-72-302(3), C.R.S. as “all books, papers, cards, photographs, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials, regardless of form or characteristics, that are made, maintained, or kept by any criminal justice agency in the state for use in the exercise of functions required or authorized by law or administrative rule, including but not limited to the results of chemical biological substance testing to determine genetic markers conducted pursuant to sections 16-11-102.4 and 16-23-104, C.R.S..”
Records of official actions must be available for inspection. All other criminal justice records may be open for inspection subject to the discretion of the official custodian.
The Office will not release records under the CCJRA unless the requestor signs a statement affirming that the records will not be used for the direct solicitation of business for pecuniary gain. Section 24-72-305.5, C.R.S.
The Office does not provide legal advice to the general public, nor does it have the authority to determine if another agency or office has improperly denied a CORA or CCJRA request, or to require another agency to turn over records.
Last Updated: September 2019
How to Make a Records Request
For a CORA/CCJRA Records Request Form, CLICK HERE
For compiled data requests, CLICK HERE
Media requests for records should be sent to Carolyn Tyler, Communications Director, at Carolyn.Tyler@denverda.org.
Transcripts of Court Proceedings
Transcripts of court proceedings are not provided through the District Attorney’s office.