The Outrider The Outrider The Outrider

April 2002, Volume 34, Number 4

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Colorado Supreme Court
Tattered Cover sales records
safe from task force

The Tattered Cover Book Store does not have to turn over sales records to aid in a drug investigation.

The Colorado Supreme Court refused April 8 to force the store to do so, saying that both the U.S. and Colorado constitutions protect an individual’s fundamental right to purchase books anonymously.

The North Metro Drug Task Force tried to obtain book-purchasing records of a suspected methamphetamine lab operator in March 2000. Members of the task force had recovered a Tattered Cover mailer outside the lab that was set up in an Adams County mobile home. The task force recovered two “how-to” methamphetamine books inside the trailer, and officials said they needed the information to identify the lab operator.

In the 6-0 opinion, the court said the ruling doesn’t preclude law enforcement from ever getting the records, particularly when the records don’t involve the contents of the books. But Bender wrote that before such records are ordered turned over, law-enforcement officials must “demonstrate a compelling governmental need” for the records

Bender added that any time law-enforcement officials want to execute a search warrant on a bookstore in Colorado, the bookstore is entitled to a hearing to challenge the action.

The case was the first of its kind decided by a state supreme court.

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