Tag Archives: constitution

No Cruising Law

Driving down through Main Street in Longmont, Colorado, perceptive individuals will note the no cruising ban.  I thought the ban was interesting — I do not believe I have ever seen a “no cruising” law anywhere else. This is civil infraction allow permit a $125 minimum fine for a first offense, and $350 minimum fine if it is the third offense or more.  This ordinance can be quite the cash cow.

No Cruising Sign / Law Colorado
No Cruising Sign / Longmont, Colorado – photo taken by CoCommonlaw

I have probably driven by these signs thousands of times before.  Yesterday when I passed by one of the signs with a good friend, I had a thought: is the “no cruising” ban constitutional?  My initial thought was, no.  This really can’t be allowed, can it?

My friend staunchly defended it because of the “noise and the traffic.”  I thought don’t they already have noise and traffic laws?

In this blog post I will analyze the constitutionality of this fairly unusual law.

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Challenging the Constitutionality of Colorado Open Record Act, Fee Provision

Now, I’ve had a run in or two with the new fee structure for the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-205 (6)(a) which changed how much government agencies could charge for Open Records requests.  Since the provision is relatively new, I want to take a deeper look at it.  My initial thought is that it is unconstitutional as it is currently written because of vagueness, arbitrariness, and a violation of fundamental constitutional rights.

The new law allows custodians of records (the record keepers) to create policies to charge for the retrieval and research of public records, only if it meets the following requirements: 1. there must be prior notification of the policies before the request is made; 2. the custodian must publish on her website or otherwise the policies (formally and presumably in a public place so prior notification can occur); 3. it must specify the fee for research and retrieval per hour.

The first hour is free and any additional hours a governmental agency can charge up to $30 dollars an hour.

Under any such policy, the custodian shall not impose a charge for the first hour of time expended in connection with the research and retrieval of public records. After the first hour of time has been expended, the custodian may charge a fee for the research and retrieval of public records that shall not exceed thirty dollars per hour.

— Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-205 (6)(a); See Colorado HB 14-1193 (2014) (full text is provided in a .pdf at the bottom of the page).

Thirty dollars may seem like a nominal fee, but it can quickly add up and keep public documents out of the reach of those who cannot afford it.  My Open Records request for the operating procedures of the Denver Sheriff and Denver County Jail estimated that it would take 25 hours to fulfill and would come out to $750. Also, the agency determines how long it will take and there is no way for individuals to challenge it.

Probably a good first step in the analysis of the CORA fee provision would be to see if it is a valid law.  If it isn’t a valid law the way it is written it would be struck down.  Let’s start our journey there first.

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Colorado Revised Statutes Now Open and Notorious

The Colorado Revised Statutes are now openly available right here.  To find them, just look at the horizontal menu at the top of the top of the screen, and the click on ‘Colorado Revised Statutes.’

Colorado Common Law received a written copyright waiver, which allows this website to republish the state statutes in its entirety (see screenshot below).  This is a great first step toward removing the barriers of citizens being able to read and access the law online.  Before there were two impediments to anyone (not just citizens of Colorado) who wanted to read the Colorado Revised Statutes online.

Open Record request under CORA which was granted giving Colorado Common Law the right to publish Colorado state law.
Colorado Common Law’s copyright waiver and the right to publish Colorado Revised Statutes.

In this blog post, I will talk about what the state is of the impediments to reading the Colorado Revised Statutes and what else can be done to increase the accessibility.

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Colorado’s Mixed Constitutional Messages

Dear Colorado,

You are my true love, but I can’t stand your mixed constitutional messages anymore.  Instead of me having to try to decipher what you mean would you please clarify your intent?

Your’s truly,

Joe

Free speech and copyrights are both protected constitutional interests.  Usually those interests act in harmony, but there are times when they conflict.

A copyright grants its holder the power to stop other people – noncopyright holders – from saying certain things or distributing certain messages.  A legislative grant of this private power to stop speech on the basis of its content is in overt tension with the constitutional guarantees of speech and press freedom.

— C. Edwin Baker, First Amendment Limits on Copyright, 55. Vand. L. Rev. 891, 892 (2002).

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