What is a “reasonable” CORA fee?

Submitted by LDieringer on Thu, 08/29/2013 - 5:58pm

From Jeffrey A. Roberts, executive director, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition:  Unlike the statute governing the release of criminal-justice records, the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) says nothing about the fees that local governments and the state may charge to research and retrieve all other public records. So it is up to the courts to provide guidance.

Earlier this month, the Colorado Court of Appeals addressed the cost of CORA requests in Mountain-Plains Investment Corp. v. Parker Jordan Metropolitan District. The appellate court concluded that a records custodian “may charge a reasonable fee for retrieving and researching records, including the time it takes to identify and segregate records that need not be disclosed.” (The fee to obtain copies of most public records is set by CORA at 25 cents per page).

But what is a “reasonable” fee? The answer to that question was spelled out in the Court of Appeals’ 2003 ruling in Black v. Southwestern Water Conservation District. The court’s Aug. 15 ruling in the Mountain-Plains case affirmed the Black decision, according to attorney Steve Zansberg, who represents members of the Colorado Press Association and other news organizations on media-law matters.

Visit CFOIC.org for the rest.

Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition is a member of NFOIC. --eds.

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