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July 6, 2015

Lawmakers propose removing some online court records

File photo

File photo

Language added to the state budget by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee would make it easier to remove some information from the state’s online court records system.

The Wisconsin Circuit Court Access site, commonly known as “CCAP,” allows residents to search for court records using the name of an individual. The popular site has often drawn criticism though for allowing information to remain detailing charges that were filed, but may not have resulted in a conviction.

Under a budget motion adopted Thursday night, the state director of courts would be required to remove information from the site for any criminal case where all charges were dismissed prior to the start of a trial, all dismissed charges carried a maximum prison sentence of six years or less, none of the dismissed charges were violent offenses, a court order has been issued to remove the information, and the charges were filed against someone who was under the age of 25. All of those criteria would have to be met for charges to be removed.

The change would apply to any judgments or orders entered before the effective date of the provision. It was not immediately clear how many cases the provision could apply to.

John Doe target sues Milwaukee County district attorney

Photo: Milwaukee County Courthouse

Photo: Milwaukee County Courthouse

A former aide to Governor Scott Walker is filing a civil lawsuit against the Milwaukee County district attorney, accusing D.A. John Chisholm and several of his staff members of conducting a campaign of intimidation and harassment against Cindy Archer.

In September of 2011, law enforcement raided Archer’s home as part of a secret John Doe investigation into campaign work being done out of Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County executive. Investigators seized personal emails, followed by what Archer’s attorney claims were “months of aggressive interrogations that were conducted in secret.”

Archer and Walker were never charged with any wrongdoing, although six people were convicted as a result of the probe. The complaint alleges Archer was targeted because of her role in drafting Act 10; Walker’s bill that restricted collective bargaining for many public employees. She is seeking unspecified damages for violations of her First, Fourth, an Fifth amendment rights.

Chisholm’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Justice Gableman withdraws motion to reconsider Rindfleisch appeal

The Wisconsin Supreme Court (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

A state Supreme Court justice has withdrawn a motion to reconsider an appeal from a former aide to Governor Scott Walker.

Justice Michael Gableman last week made a motion for the court to revisit its decision not to hear an appeal from Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker’s former deputy chief of staff when he was the Milwaukee County Executive. She was convicted of felony misconduct in office for doing campaign work from her taxpayer-funded job. An appeals court upheld the conviction and the state Supreme Court declined to review the decision in March.

In a letter dated June 30, Gableman noted that Rindfleisch has appealed her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, he said “I believe that is the better course of action at this time, and therefore withdraw my motion.”

Rindfleisch has claimed that the warrants used to seize digital evidence against her in a now concluded John Doe investigation were unconstitutional. Prosecutors, who were investigating misconduct by staff and associates of the Milwaukee County executives office, were seeking evidence against someone else.

Wisconsin Supreme Court backs wind turbine rules

Glacier Hills Wind Park (Photo: We Energies)

Glacier Hills Wind Park (Photo: We Energies)

The state Supreme Court has upheld state rules for where wind turbine construction can take place.

The rules adopted by the Public Service Commission in 2012 established minimum distance standards between homes and wind turbines, in order to address concerns about noise levels and shadow flicker. The Wisconsin Realtors Association, Builders Association, and Towns Association challenged wind them, arguing that the agency should have done a report on how the package would impact the housing industry.

The challengers have argued the rules could affect home prices, and the PSC is required by law to take that into consideration.

In a 5-2 decision, the state Supreme Court found such a report was not needed, upholding similar decisions made in lower courts.

Walker calls gay marriage ruling a ‘grave mistake’

Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker

Governor Scott Walker says the U.S. Supreme Court made a “grave mistake” with a decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.

Walker, who is currently considering a presidential run, released a statement shortly after Friday morning’s 5-4 decision by the nation’s high court. The Republican governor said “five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia.’”

Walker noted that he backed Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban, which was adopted by voters in 2006 and was struck down by a federal judge last year. He also restated his position that “the states are the proper place for these decisions to be made.” Walker expressed support a federal amendment to define marriage. He said “the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.”

The governor also called for action to make sure the rights of those who oppose gay marriage are still protected. “I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience.”