Free Speech

Lawyer Asks Google to Hide His Bar Discipline Information on State Supreme Court's Web Site

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The Colorado Supreme Court site has this item on one of its pages:

People v. Travis Shane Uhlenhopp. 19PDJ077. December 5, 2019.

The Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties' conditional admission of misconduct and suspended Travis Shane Uhlenhopp (attorney registration number 39280) for six months, all to be served and followed by of a one-year period of probation, effective January 9, 2020. The probationary requirements include completing an ethics course and complying with all terms of his deferred judgment and probation.

In February 2019, Uhlenhopp pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge in Denver County Court stemming from a May 2018 altercation with his then-girlfriend. Uhlenhopp struck her multiple times in the face, causing her several facial contusions, including a black eye and a swollen cheek. Uhlenhopp received a twelve-month deferred judgment and sentence with probationary conditions, including a domestic violence evaluation, domestic violence treatment sessions, and random urinary analyses.

Uhlenhopp also failed to report to Colorado disciplinary authorities a driving under the influence conviction that occurred in California in March 2017.

Through this conduct, Uhlenhopp violated Colo. RPC 8.4(b) (a lawyer shall not commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects) and Colo. RPC 251.20(b) (requiring lawyers to report convictions to disciplinary authorities).

The case file is public per C.R.C.P. 251.31.

Indeed, this item is linked to from the lawyer's attorney record that comes up if you search on the court's Attorney Search & Disciplinary History page.

Now apparently the records of the conviction have been sealed by the Denver County Court, according to the PDF linked here. And the lawyer has now asked Google to deindex two web pages (so that Google users won't be able to see them), including the one on the Colorado Supreme Court site:

NOTICE TYPE: Court Order

Explanation of Court Order

"Action Information" (final section): Date: 02/04/20: CASE DISMISSED/PLEA WITHDRAWN; Date: 02/07/20: HEARING ON MOTION TO SEAL/MOTION GRANTED/RECORD SEALED BY COURT

… TARGETED URLS:

http://www.noethics.net/News/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25004:z&catid=137:colorado-attorney-misfits&Itemid=100;

https://coloradosupremecourt.com/pdj/Decisions/Uhlenhopp,%20Conditional%20Admission%20of%20Misconduct,%2019PDJ077,%2012-05-19.pdf

Here's my thinking: I understand that a trial court has decided to seal its own records about the criminal case, which means those records are no longer available from the court. But the Colorado Supreme Court has obviously not decided to seal its records about the disciplinary measures against the defendant; it seems to think that the public ought to be able to see them. There would have been no First Amendment problem with its removing the page from its own site if it thought that appropriate. But it kept the page up.

It's hard then to see why a lawyer should be able to get Google to hide this information that is being distributed by the Colorado Supreme Court. And it's hard to see why Google searchers should be denied this information that the Colorado Supreme Court seems to think is relevant to people who want to know this particular lawyer's disciplinary history. (To its credit, Google hasn't deindexed the page, despite two requests.)