Independent Ethics Commission Must Pay Colorado Ethics Watch Attorneys Fees
Yesterday, District Court Judge Norman Haglund ruled that the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) must pay Colorado Ethics Watch $10,332.02 for attorneys fees it incurred in a successful lawsuit against the IEC for violating the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
The law suit arose out of an open records request filed by Ethics Watch to the IEC in August 2008 regarding advisory opinion and letter ruling requests pending before the commission. The IEC did not provide any documents responsive to Ethics Watch’s CORA request, instead filing a request with Denver District Court for an order to protect all information the IEC reviews. In October 2008, Ethics Watch filed its own countersuit against the IEC for failure to permit inspection of documents under CORA. A trial of these cases took place in May and days later Judge Haglund ruled that the IEC’s withholding of documents from public review was improper, ordered the IEC to give Ethics Watch access to review documents regarding advisory opinions and letter rulings within 15 days, and awarded attorneys fees to Ethics Watch in the case.
Both Ethics Watch and the IEC submitted written arguments to the judge regarding the amount of attorneys fees that should be awarded. In its ruling today, Judge Haglund ruled resoundingly in Ethics Watch’s favor with a fee award over $10,000.