An effort is underway in the legislature to scale back access to some online court records. The Circuit Courts Automation Programs...or CCAP...puts court actions online for public view. These are state records, as is the circuit court system.
The website is visited more than 8 million times a year. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the site is popular but fears people found innocent of charges or had charges dropped also are scarred unfairly. People with money judgements who pay them back also feel they could be unfairly judged.
Representative Mary Czaja of Irma is sponsoring one of the bills curtailing some of the access.
Bill Lueders is President of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and has concerns about the effort to rollback some of the information...
"...there was a great deal of thought that went into creating the system and managing the system...panels of people that included prosecutors...defense attorneys...clerks of court, sat down and made the rules for this system. I think a lot of the 'tinkering' doesn't have the benefit of that broad perspective..."
Lueders says the system follows Wisconsin's long tradition of open government and open records. He says the other advantage to the system is pure function: it allows Clerks of Court and others using this information access to it much faster than when it was done via mail or other means.
The matter will likely be on the floor of the legislature during the upcoming spring session.