Wisconsin’s online court records system (WCCA) often known as CCAP, is about keeping an eye on the justice system, according to a government transparency advocate.
The State Bar Association is requesting judges be allowed to erase the records for those whose charges were dropped saying the database is being used by employers and landlords to discriminate.
However Bill Lueders, President of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, sides with the state Attorney General’s office which states there is a legitimate public interest in knowing what prosecutors are up to.
“If that means bringing charges against people that they (prosecutors) ultimately can’t prove that’s something that should be within the public’s right to know,” says Lueders, who adds the proposed changes would allow, “prosecutors and police to bury their mistakes.”
The state Supreme Court ran out of time Monday to decide on the Bar Association’s request. Justice David Prosser said there should be changes in the records as unintended consequences have developed.
Lueders such reforms have already been taking place. He says since the databases inception in 1999, there have been several oversight committees with extensive recommendations on how to improve the system.
Justices will reconvene on the online records issue after seeing the findings of a Legislative Council Committee, as suggested by Director of State Courts John Voelker. The committee, of which Lueders is a member, had its inaugural meeting in September and will wrap up study early next year.
Lueders admits there is abuse going on by some people however he believes the appropriate response is not denying the information to everyone.