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SPJ supports The Denver Post in bid for governor’s phone records


For immediate release

Kevin Smith, SPJ President, (304) 365-4864, ksmith@spj.org
Andrew M. Scott, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215, ascott@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists supports The Denver Post’s fight to obtain cell phone records of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, which the Post maintains should be public.

By petitioning the Colorado Supreme Court, the Post is seeking access to the governor’s personal cell phone bills, which contain records of official business. An amicus brief, which SPJ joined, was authored and filed Aug. 11 by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The Post made a request two years ago under the Colorado Open Records Law for the personal cell phone records of the governor. Ritter had made and received a number of official calls on his personal mobile device, the Post argued, warranting their release.

When Ritter’s office refused to release the phone bills on the grounds that they were not public records, the newspaper asked the state trial court to review the denial. Both the lower court and a subsequent appellate court concluded that the records fell outside the bounds of the state open-records law. The Post has filed a petition for certiorari in the state’s highest court seeking their release.

If certiorari is granted, the Colorado Supreme Court will decide whether a public official can avoid disclosure under the state open records law by arguing that personal records, even those that reflect official business, should not be public.

The Reporters Committee’s amicus brief argues that the public will not be able to hold government officials accountable if journalists are barred from accessing private records that reflect public business. It also argues that the types of records such as the telephone call log information at issue are critical to the investigative newsgathering process and are subject to the open-records law.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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