Members of the State Supreme Court this week discussed a potential rule change that would allow some court records to be removed from Wisconsin’s online database of court records. The primary focus is on criminal cases where someone was accused, but was never convicted or the charges were dropped.
Justices decided to hold off on taking any action though, until a Legislative Council study committee wraps up its work on the issue early next year.
While he’s disappointed the system will remain in place for now, state Representative Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids) says it’s a good sign.
Schneider has been a frequent critic of the online database known as CCAP. He says the information it contains allows anyone with an internet connection to dig up dirt on their neighbors or friends, and it also makes it easier for employers or landlords to discriminate against someone who may not have actually be convicted of a crime.
The Wisconsin Rapids Democrat has made several attempts to change how the database operates, including shutting off general access by members of the public. He’s been met with strong resistance though by open records advocates, including the press, who argue the system can’t be restricted without denying the public access to information about what the court system is doing.
The Legislative Council study committee is expected to finish a report by next spring on how to address the questions surrounding CCAP records and access. Schneider is optimistic they can propose a solution that will protect those who are “scarred for life” by false accusations that end up in the system and remain there for everyone to see.