Director of State Courts
Policy on Disclosure of Public Information Over the Internet

  1. Definitions:
    1. The definitions contained in the Open Records Law, Wis. Stats. §§ 19.21-.39, shall apply to this policy.
    2. Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP). The case management system created by the Wisconsin Director of State Courts consisting of a database of case information from Wisconsin circuit courts. References in this policy to actions to be taken by CCAP refer to the CCAP Steering Committee or the Director of State Courts.
    3. Circuit court. All offices and branches of a circuit court, including but not limited to judges, the clerk of circuit court, the clerk's deputy, or deputies; probate court; juvenile court; or other specialized court or court office that uses CCAP as a case management system.
    4. Open records. Those records that are by law accessible to an individual making a records request in the circuit court.
    5. Confidential records. Those records that are not by law accessible to an individual making a records request in the circuit court.
    6. Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA). A public-access Internet website containing open record information compiled by CCAP. References in this policy to actions to be taken by WCCA refer to the WCCA Oversight Committee.

  2. Information on WCCA available to the general public:
    1. WCCA shall contain information from only those portions of the case files generated by the Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP) that are open records and otherwise accessible by law to an individual.
    2. WCCA shall not contain information from closed records that would not otherwise be accessible by law to an individual because of specific statutory exceptions, such as juvenile court records, guardianship proceedings, and other such case types or records.
    3. CCAP shall not be required to make available on WCCA all information in a case file that may be public record, nor is CCAP required to generate new records or create new programs for extracting or compiling information contained on WCCA.
    4. The Open Records Law does not allow record custodians to demand either the identity of a requester or the use to which a requester intends to put the information gathered [Wis. Stats. § 19.35(1)(i),]. Accordingly, WCCA shall not require identification or an intended purpose before allowing public access to the WCCA website.
    5. WCCA shall not charge for accessing information through the website. However, WCCA may impose a service charge or assess user fees for requests for bulk distribution or for data in a specialized format.
    6. WCCA may limit the number of records searched on any single request.
    7. WCCA contains information as it exists at a specific point in time in the CCAP database. Because information in the CCAP database changes constantly, WCCA is not responsible for subsequent entries that update, modify, correct or delete data. WCCA is not responsible for notifying prior requesters of updates, modifications, corrections or deletions. All users have the responsibility to determine whether information obtained previously from WCCA is still accurate, current and complete.
    8. WCCA shall not contain:
      1. the record of any criminal conviction expunged by the circuit court
        (Note: When a court orders expunction of a record, the underlying CCAP database is modified to remove the record. When database updates are transferred to WCCA, the previous record will no longer appear. WCCA makes no reference to records that have been expunged (or otherwise altered). Requests for such records report only that no record has been found, in the same manner that WCCA would otherwise report "null" searches. WCCA is not responsible for the fact that requests made before the expunction will show the conviction, while requests made after the expunction will not show the conviction.)
      2. the "day" from the date of birth field for non-criminal cases
      3. the driver's license number in traffic cases
      4. "additional text" fields for data entered before July 1, 2001, in all cases.
    9. WCCA contains only information from the CCAP database from those counties using all or part of the CCAP system. Because extraneous actions are not normally reflected in the CCAP database or the circuit court files, WCCA does not include information on them. Examples of extraneous actions are gubernatorial pardons, appellate decisions, and administrative agency determinations.

  3. Correcting information on WCCA:
    1. Neither CCAP nor WCCA creates the data on WCCA. Circuit court employees in counties using CCAP create the data. Neither CCAP nor WCCA is responsible for any errors or omissions in the data found on WCCA.
    2. An individual who believes that information on WCCA is inaccurate may contact the office of the clerk of circuit court in the county in which the original case file is located to request correction.
    3. The clerk of circuit court in the county in which the original case file is located shall review requests for corrections and make any appropriate corrections so that records on WCCA reflect the original case records.
    4. Corrections shall be entered on CCAP and will be made available on WCCA in the same manner in which information is otherwise transmitted to WCCA.

  4. Privacy for victims, witnesses and jurors:
    1. The data fields that contain the names of victims, witnesses and jurors are not available on WCCA.
    2. Various documents completed by court personnel using CCAP occasionally require the insertion of names of victims, witnesses or jurors. Examples include:
      1. court minutes that provide the names of witnesses called to testify or jurors who have been considered for jury duty;
      2. judgments of conviction that may provide "no-contact" provisions concerning victims;
      3. restitution orders that may contain the name of a victim;
      4. restraining orders/injunctions that may provide victim identities.
      These data elements are normally inserted into "additional text" fields by circuit court personnel based on the individual county's policies and procedures on the amount, detail, or type of data inserted. CCAP and WCCA recommend that court personnel entering information concerning crime victims into court documents use initials and dates of birth rather than full names whenever doing so would not defeat the purpose of the court document.
    3. Because the "additional text" fields contain information critical to the understanding of many of the court record entries, denying access to those fields because of the occasional inclusion of the name of a victim, witness or juror would be contrary to the public interest in providing meaningful access to open court records.

  5. Public access to electronically filed documents, scanned documents or imaged documents contained in circuit court files:
    1. WCCA shall evaluate whether to provide access to documents that have been filed electronically, scanned or otherwise imaged by the circuit court so long as those documents would otherwise be fully accessible under this policy.
    2. The electronic filing, scanning or imaging of some documents in a court file does not require that all other documents in that file be scanned or imaged.
    3. The electronic filing, scanning or imaging of some documents in files in a case type does not require that all documents in all other files in the same case type must be scanned or imaged.

  6. Non-public access to closed records available on CCAP:
    1. CCAP may maintain a non-public website that contains information that would otherwise be a closed record.
    2. CCAP may authorize an appropriate law enforcement agency, prosecutor's office or other individual or agency electronic access to those closed records to which they would otherwise be entitled to access.
    3. CCAP may require an appropriate security screening mechanism that limits the accessibility to closed records to those who are lawfully entitled to such access.
    4. Authorization to access closed records for legitimate purposes is not authorization for redisclosure beyond that which is lawfully allowed. The individual or agency to which disclosure has been allowed is solely responsible to ensure that no further unauthorized redisclosure of closed records occurs.