A judge stated Monday a contested order he issued doesn’t bar a citizens group from seeking records from election officials in Chaffee County and five other counties embroiled in a ballots lawsuit. The order, instead, bars the group from circumventing limits on how much information each side can seek from the other side to be used to bolster their positions on the lawsuit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe stated. The elections-activist group Citizen Center had asked Watanabe to rescind a restriction in the order, contending it infringed on rights of the group and its members to use the Colorado Open Records Act.
Election officials in Chaffee County and five other counties contend a citizen group suing the officials is trying to create a nonexistent illusion of harm about access to public records. County Clerk and Recorder Joyce Reno and her counterparts in the other counties contend Citizen Center overstated the scope of a court order that restricts requests from the group’s members to view records. The advocacy group, based in Aspen, claimed earlier this month the order violates its right to view records kept by the election officials.
A citizen group fighting election officials in Chaffee and five other counties contends a judge’s order violates the group’s right to obtain public records from the officials. The order restricts the group’s members from requesting records for information the group’s attorney can obtain from the officials, through normal court process, for its lawsuit against them. “A gag order like this one is obviously a gross infringement on our collective rights,” alleged Marilyn Marks, Aspen, the founder of the group Citizen Center. The group is asking Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe to rescind his June 4 order.