The Colorado Revised Statutes are once again open and notorious. Updated for the year 2014, the Colorado General Assembly posted the new statutes on its internal, super secret website (this is the website I had to use an Open Records request and a little back and forth to find out about).
CoCommonLaw also has updated its links to the new 2014 laws. Individuals are still able to use CoCommonLaw to download, read, and learn Colorado law. Nothing has changed here, except for the updated links. This post is to inform readers of CoCommonLaw to the updated laws, and again to the question why the Colorado General Assembly does not make their internal version of the statutes public. Use the menu at the top of the screen and click on Colorado Revised Statutes to read or download the 2014 edition.
Still hosted by the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS), a legal resource department for the Colorado General Assembly, a new website with the state statutes features the updated laws.
The title of the website is still obscure. For the unassuming, ‘2014 C.R.S.’ could mean anything or nothing at all. Why the Office of Legislative Legal Services refuses to use the formal name, Colorado Revised Statutes, is beyond me. They could have even used something like ‘Colorado State Law 2014′ which would have been more descriptive and had a better chance of an individual stumbling onto it through a search engine. Instead OLLS apparently intends to keep their website to those in the know. That is a shame. CoCommonLaw is happy to point users to where they can access and download the law for free without signing a contract.
Another thing that is the same is the link to the Colorado Revised Statutes. Still the Colorado General Assembly, Office of Legislative Legal Services, or any other statewide agency publicly acknowledges this free version of the Colorado Revised Statutes exists. Instead and consistently, all of the links point to LexisNexis (LN), which forces individuals to sign a legally binding contract and give up rights in order to read the state law. I went into detail about this statewide practice in my previous article, A Case for Ignorance of Colorado Law – Revisited. Colorado pushes users to LN’s website, where individuals either have to enter into a contract of adhesion or purchase the state statutes for an exorbitant amount.
Lastly nothing, to the best of my knowledge, has changed with the Colorado General Assembly copyright on either parts or all of the state statutes. Theoretically, the state of Colorado could come back and sue individuals under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 2-5-115 or § 2-5-118 (2). It is a shame that has not changed either.
At least, the state continued to let individuals have access to their secret set of state laws. Something is better than nothing.
Ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Otherwise in English: there is no excuse for ignorance of the law. But in the case of the state of Colorado, I will argue that there is state created room for an ignorance of the law.
Interested in Colorado law, I wanted to read up on the statutory law. This turned out much tougher than I previously had thought it would be. First things first, I am currently living in Arizona. While I visit Colorado a couple of times a year, taking a trip down to the local library to read the statutes was not an option. So I went to look online — it is the year 2014, the statutes must be online right?
This is where things get perplexing, frustrating, and downright irritating as a citizen trying to civically educate himself. The statutes are linked to a private third-party service, LexisNexis, from several official Colorado governmental websites: Colorado Legislature (where they make the laws); Colorado.gov (where there is even a tutorial on how to use the non-governmental service); Colorado Attorney General (click on an individual statute); Colorado Secretary of State; and probably countless other websites within the state government. Other than it being really lazy for Colorado not to have their statutes on their own website…. I mean how much can it cost to store and transmit a bunch of text? The priorities of the state are quickly seen from their homepage where there is a large revolving banner ad which promotes Colorado’s technological savyness: “renew your driver’s license online today”; Colorado.gov/renewtags (for auto registration); the link to DORA (Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. But nowhere in the entire web of Colorado governmental websites are the state statutes.
The state presumes for you to know the law, but to read the law you must enter into a contract of adhesion (a forced agreement) with a private company (LexisNexis) in order to know the law.
Clicking on the links from any of the state governmental websites took me to LexisNexis where I then tried to read the laws. As I think I might get to the laws, finally, I get hit with this huge sign (seen screenshot below) telling me that I must agree to this private company’s terms of service to even read the laws of the state of Colorado — if I do not agree, I cannot read the laws.
Here is the text from the screenshot:
This website is maintained by LexisNexis®, the publisher of the Colorado Revised Statutes, to provide free public access to the law. It is not intended to replace professional legal consultation or advanced legal research tools. To report errors regarding this website, please complete the Feedback Form.
Terms & Conditions
Your use of this service is subject to Terms and Conditions. Please indicate your agreement to the Terms and Conditions by clicking “I Agree” below.
Are you kidding me? I have to basically sign a contract with a third party in order to view the laws of Colorado on the Internet? Maybe it is just me. Maybe it is too much to expect the government who is enforcing their laws to actually have a copy of them on their website.
The University of Denver School of Law does not think much of it as it instructs on its website to view and use the Colorado Revised Statutes. “The C.R.S. (Colorado Revised Statutes) are made available for public use by the Committee on Legal Services of the Colorado General Assembly through LexisNexis. The state of Colorado owns the copyright to the statutes (See C.R.S. 2-5-115).” Apparently, the law school does not think anything of instructing people to enter a contract of adhesion (a forced contract) with LexisNexis to read the Colorado laws.
Let’s see what sorts of things are the Terms & Conditions that must be agreed to before one is allowed entry. I will comb through these in chronological order picking out the ones I find interesting.
“8. Advertisers. This Web Site may contain advertising and sponsorship. Advertisers and sponsors are responsible for ensuring that material submitted for inclusion on this Web Site is accurate and complies with applicable laws. Provider will not be responsible for the illegality of or any error or inaccuracy in advertisers’ or sponsors’ materials or for the acts or omissions of advertisers and sponsors.”
Advertisers? I did not see any advertisers when viewing the Colorado Statutes…but this leaves open the door for Budweiser, Marlboro, or Betty Crocker to advertise and perhaps sponsor the Colorado Revised Statutes in the future. Just think of the opportunities…”The Colorado Criminal Code is brought you by the sponsorship of Ficticious Brand Bailbondsmen.” Oh, Colorado.
“16. DISCLAIMER. THIS WEB SITE, THE INTERACTIVE AREAS, THE CONTENT, AND POSTINGS ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS, AS AVAILABLE” BASIS. PROVIDER EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. PROVIDER DISCLAIMS ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY LOSS, INJURY, CLAIM, LIABILITY, OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND RESULTING FROM, ARISING OUT OF OR ANY WAY RELATED TO (A) ANY ERRORS IN OR OMISSIONS FROM THIS WEB SITE, THE INTERACTIVE AREAS, THE CONTENT, AND THE POSTINGS INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, TECHNICAL INACCURACIES AND TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS, (B) THIRD PARTY COMMUNICATIONS, (C) ANY THIRD PARTY WEB SITES OR CONTENT THEREIN DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY ACCESSED THROUGH LINKS IN THIS WEB SITE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY ERRORS IN OR OMISSIONS THEREFROM, (D) THE UNAVAILABILITY OF THIS WEB SITE, THE INTERACTIVE AREAS, THE CONTENT, THE POSTINGS, OR ANY PORTION THEREOF, (E) YOUR USE OF THIS WEB SITE, THE INTERACTIVE AREAS, THE CONTENT, OR THE POSTINGS, OR (F) YOUR USE OF ANY EQUIPMENT OR SOFTWARE IN CONNECTION WITH THIS WEB SITE, THE INTERACTIVE AREAS, THE CONTENT, OR THE POSTINGS.” (emphasis added).
Lawyers write things in all capitals because things are important. They want to get your attention and for your to read it. Never mind, that studies show that it is more difficult to read and comprehend information that is typed in all bold — that is a discussion for another day. This paragraph disclaims LexisNexis’ liability. LexisNexis says that you or I cannot hold them responsible for any errors or omissions from their website. Hmmm. That is interesting. What if there is an error in one of the Statutes that materially (a good legal word) affects the meaning? LexisNexis is basically saying, “we’re sorry, but it is not our problem. You were forced agree not to hold us liable to even read the Statutes.”
The irony of this term is awesome. If I have a problem reading, accessing, or using the Colorado Statutes that rises to the level of litigation, I am forced to use the laws of the State of New York. Hahaha. I think that speaks for itself.
Now, I know the statutes are available at local libraries throughout Colorado, and probably other governmental organizations in print format. My point is as the print format is continually being supplemented, if not replaced by the internet, is it really fair in the name of justice to force citizens to sign a contract to read the laws of the state?
If I do not want to sign all my rights away to LexisNexis just to read the Colorado Revised Statutes online, doesn’t that support the case for ignorance of the law, at least just a little bit?