The United States Supreme Court has denied The Colorado Independent's request for review of a Colorado Supreme Court decision to allow records in a death penalty case to remain under seal, a decision that may make it easier for judges in the state to block public access to court documents.

The decision, announced online early Tuesday morning, means that a unanimous June ruling against The Independent by the Colorado court stands, and certain records about prosecutorial misconduct in the capital case against Sir Mario Owens — a death row inmate who was convicted of murdering a state lawmaker's son — will remain sealed.

Votes on whether to grant petitions are not made public, so it's not known if the Supreme Court was split or united when it elected not to take up The Independent's case. Its decision, which was posted with no discussion or statement, does not necessarily mean it agrees with the Colorado Supreme Court.

"We're obviously disappointed that the Supreme Court did not choose to review the Colorado Supreme Court's ruling," said Steve Zansberg, an attorney with Ballard Spahr who represented The Independent pro bono and who also serves as the president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. "It leaves our state as the only jurisdiction in the nation that has categorically rejected any First Amendment right of the people to inspect judicial records."

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