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Investigative Evidence Seized From Colorado Homes Subject To CCJRA, Not CORA Provisions

Colorado resident parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (parents) challenged a Colorado appellate ruling that seized murder preparation recordings made by their sons were governed by the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and not the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA). The court held that the CCJRA applied and remanded for production determination.

Klebold and Harris killed 13 people and wounded 21 more at Columbine High School in Jefferson County in 1999 and then killed themselves. A search warrant uncovered recordings which proved premeditation. The victims' families and the Denver Post were denied production of the tapes by the county sheriff because they were part of an ongoing investigation under the CCJRA and the district court agreed. The appellate court concluded that the tapes were governed by the CORA and the parents challenged that decision.

The Supreme Court of Colorado disagreed with the parent's claim that the recordings were their property. The court also disagreed with the appellate decision that private home-seized investigative evidence was governed by the CORA. It was determined that the tapes were criminal justice records subject to the CCJRA and that the sheriff's office was mandated to determine disclosure. See: Harris v. The Denver Post Corporation, 123 P.3d 34 (Colo. 2005).

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Related legal case

Harris v. The Denver Post Corporation