Colorado Revised Statutes Title 24. Government State § 24-72-203. Public records open to inspection

(1)(a) All public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, except as provided in this part 2 or as otherwise provided by law, but the official custodian of any public records may make such rules with reference to the inspection of such records as are reasonably necessary for the protection of such records and the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the custodian or the custodian's office.

(b) Where public records are kept only in miniaturized or digital form, whether on magnetic or optical disks, tapes, microfilm, microfiche, or otherwise, the official custodian shall:

(I) Adopt a policy regarding the retention, archiving, and destruction of such records;  and

(II) Take such measures as are necessary to assist the public in locating any specific public records sought and to ensure public access to the public records without unreasonable delay or unreasonable cost.  Such measures may include, without limitation, the availability of viewing stations for public records kept on microfiche;  the provision of portable disk copies of computer files;  or direct electronic access via online bulletin boards or other means.

(2)(a) If the public records requested are not in the custody or control of the person to whom application is made, such person shall forthwith notify the applicant of this fact, in writing if requested by the applicant.  In such notification, the person shall state in detail to the best of the person's knowledge and belief the reason for the absence of the records from the person's custody or control, the location of the records, and what person then has custody or control of the records.

(b) If an official custodian has custody of correspondence sent by or received by an elected official, the official custodian shall consult with the elected official prior to allowing inspection of the correspondence for the purpose of determining whether the correspondence is a public record.

(3)(a) If the public records requested are in the custody and control of the person to whom application is made but are in active use, in storage, or otherwise not readily available at the time an applicant asks to examine them, the custodian shall forthwith notify the applicant of this fact, in writing if requested by the applicant.  If requested by the applicant, the custodian shall set a date and hour at which time the records will be available for inspection.

(b) The date and hour set for the inspection of records not readily available at the time of the request shall be within a reasonable time after the request.  As used in this subsection (3), a “reasonable time” shall be presumed to be three working days or less.  Such period may be extended if extenuating circumstances exist.  However, such period of extension shall not exceed seven working days.  A finding that extenuating circumstances exist shall be made in writing by the custodian and shall be provided to the person making the request within the three-day period.  Extenuating circumstances shall apply only when:

(I) A broadly stated request is made that encompasses all or substantially all of a large category of records and the request is without sufficient specificity to allow the custodian reasonably to prepare or gather the records within the three-day period;  or

(II) A broadly stated request is made that encompasses all or substantially all of a large category of records and the agency is unable to prepare or gather the records within the three-day period because:

(A) The agency needs to devote all or substantially all of its resources to meeting an impending deadline or period of peak demand that is either unique or not predicted to recur more frequently than once a month;  or

(B) In the case of the general assembly or its staff or service agencies, the general assembly is in session;  or

(III) A request involves such a large volume of records that the custodian cannot reasonably prepare or gather the records within the three-day period without substantially interfering with the custodian's obligation to perform his or her other public service responsibilities.

(c) In no event can extenuating circumstances apply to a request that relates to a single, specifically identified document.

(3.5)(a) Except as otherwise required by subsection (3.5)(b) of this section:

(I) If a public record is stored in a digital format that is neither searchable nor sortable, the custodian shall provide a copy of the public record in a digital format.

(II) If a public record is stored in a digital format that is searchable but not sortable, the custodian shall provide a copy of the public record in a searchable format.

(III) If a public record is stored in a digital format that is sortable, the custodian shall provide a copy of the public record in a sortable format.

(b) A custodian is not required to produce a public record in a searchable or sortable format in accordance with subsection (3.5)(a) of this section if:

(I) Producing the record in the requested format would violate the terms of any copyright or licensing agreement between the custodian and a third party or result in the release of a third party's proprietary information;  or

(II) After making reasonable inquiries, it is not technologically or practically feasible to permanently remove information that the custodian is required or allowed to withhold within the requested format, it is not technologically or practically feasible to provide a copy of the record in a searchable or sortable format, or if the custodian would be required to purchase software or create additional programming or functionality in its existing software to remove the information.

(c) If a custodian is not able to comply with a request to produce a public record that is subject to disclosure in a requested format specified in subsection (3.5)(a) of this section, the custodian shall produce the record in an alternate format or issue a denial under section 24-72-204 and shall provide a written declaration attesting to the reasons the custodian is not able to produce the record in the requested format.  If a court subsequently rules the custodian should have provided the record in the requested format, attorney fees may be awarded only if the custodian's action was arbitrary or capricious.

(d) Altering an existing public record, or excising fields of information pursuant to this subsection (3.5) to remove information that the custodian is either required or permitted to withhold, does not constitute the creation of a new public record.

(e) Nothing in this subsection (3.5) relieves or mitigates the obligations of a custodian to produce a public record in a format accessible to individuals with disabilities in accordance with Title II of the federal “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990”, 42 U.S.C. sec. 12131 et. seq., and other federal or state laws.

(4) Nothing in this article shall preclude the state or any of its agencies, institutions, or political subdivisions from obtaining and enforcing trademark or copyright protection for any public record, and the state and its agencies, institutions, and political subdivisions are hereby specifically authorized to obtain and enforce such protection in accordance with the applicable federal law;  except that this authorization shall not restrict public access to or fair use of copyrighted materials and shall not apply to writings which are merely lists or other compilations.


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