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Wisconsin’s Circuit Court Access Website Will No Longer Display Certain Cases After Two Years

Norman D. Farnam

March 5, 2018

The State of Wisconsin maintains a website (wccabeta.wicourts.gov) that provides public access to certain records of the Wisconsin circuit courts.  The website is very user-friendly and can be searched in a variety of different ways, including by the name of a party to an action.  Only public records are displayed, but the information available through the website can be extensive.

Although the website warns that it may be a violation of state law to discriminate against a job applicant because of an arrest or conviction record, many potential employers use the website to check up on the history of potential employees.  Likewise, landlords and others will use the website to conduct background checks.

One complaint about the website has been that case information entered into the website by the court will stay on the website for decades.  For instance, information about an eviction case brought against a tenant will remain available years after the action was filed even if the case was eventually dismissed.  This information might influence a landlord’s decision to rent to a tenant years later.

The Director of State Courts has decided to implement some changes to the website to shorten the time period that certain case information is available through the website.  According to the “WCCA Oversight Committee — Action Plan,” criminal felony cases where all charges have been disposed of by dismissal or acquittal will only display on the website for two years.  Likewise, misdemeanor cases that have been disposed of by dismissal or acquittal will only display for two years.

The display period for small claims cases that are disposed of by dismissal will also be reduced to two years.  Small claims cases in Wisconsin include eviction actions, actions for the return of earnest money, actions for the recovery of a forfeiture, certain replevin actions, certain actions on an arbitration, and other claims for monetary damages where the amount claimed is under certain thresholds.

Finally, injunctions under Wis. Stat. Chapter 813 for domestic abuse, child abuse, individual at risk, and harassment, which result in a dismissal or a denial, will only display for two years.

These changes are to go into effect by the end of March.

If you have any questions about how the information in this article may affect you or your business, please contact Norm Farnam at nfarnam@stroudlaw.com or (608) 257-2281 or your Stroud attorney.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is provided for general informational purposes only, is not necessarily updated to account for changes in the law, and should not be considered tax or legal advice.  This article is not intended to create, nor does the receipt of it constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  You should consult with your own legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.