Sunday, October 01, 2006

State's favorite snoop site modified

CCAP, Wisconsin's favorite research tool to check out political opponents, the neighbors, or your daughter's new boyfriend, has undergone some changes.

The Appleton Post Crescent reports:
State overhauls popular Web site

New features aim to clarify legal jargon on database

A popular Web site used by everyone from court officials to people seeking background on romantic interests has added features meant to clarify the legal jargon used on the site.

State officials and open-records advocates say the changes strike a good compromise between maintaining transparency of court actions and providing information that can be humiliating or damaging to people involved.

The Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Web site is a database of court records that includes the names of people criminally charged or involved in civil lawsuits, and details the court actions in the cases.

Cases range from felonies to minor disputes over bills, and include family court actions such as divorces.

Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said the changes make the site easier to interpret.

Before, it was too easy for people to misinterpret what occurred in legal cases. It wasn't always clear, for instance, when prosecutors had dismissed charges against a person.

"A lot of people didn't understand that a prosecutor abandoned the case," said Lueders, who also is an editor of The Isthmus, a weekly Madison newspaper.

"That could mean it very well shouldn't have been filed to begin with.

"Now it's clear off the bat what the outcome was, what it means, that the case was dismissed and the person is presumed innocent."

Other changes include explanations of legal terms in clear language and disclaimers warning employers against job discrimination.

Some records now will have a shorter span on the Web site.

For instance, traffic cases that were once posted for 10 years now will be removed after five years....
That explains why some of my old traffic tickets have disappeared. I look pretty law-abiding these days.

I've noticed that the lists for a lot of other people have shrunk as well. That'll be disappointing to political opponents who neglected to copy the records earlier, but a relief to people like Jessica McBride, who now only has one driving after suspension/revocation charge where there used to be more.

I wasn't going to mention that until I read her spirited defense of DA candidate Lew Wasserman the other day, (and baseless attack on me) which included this:
By the way, he's right on OAR cases (operating after revocation). The Legislature's criminalization of this offense is clogging the court system and criminalizing a new class of traffic offender. Some 60% of the misdemeanor cases in Milwaukee County Circuit Court are OARS (or at least they were when I wrote a story about it a couple years ago). It's not a good prioritization of resources to criminalize people who received an OAR for not paying fines, unless there is a link to another crime. In Wisconsin, driving after revocation of your license is criminal, but driving while intoxicated (first offense) is not. You want to free up court resources to criminalize first-offense OWI as a low-level misdemeanor? Send OAR cases back to muni court, where they belong.
Then, of course, they'd never end up on CCAP.


At 3:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that I wasn't anything to do with being considerate of misinterpretations or people being needlessly embarassed, but was because the system got so many hits it was just a crushing weight.

That the people who designed it did not anticipate the enormity of the casual use of the thing. CCAP having been designed when the internet was much less a fixture and "normal" people just did not use it like they do now.

But the thing was totally that it was a behemoth now. Just a work-load lessing motivation. But I suppose pitching it to taxpayers as "your privacy" goes down easier than "we can't keep up".

At 10:17 AM, Blogger dicta said...


A muni ct case can get into the CCAP system if the defendant or the municipality appeals the muni ct decision.

These kinds of appeals to circuit court probably happen in only 1 or 2% of all muni ct cases so its not all that common. But, it does happen.


At 7:47 PM, Blogger Legal Eagle said...

The information on Municipal Court cases in Milwaukee can be found on the following website:

If Jessica McBride has come to understand the problem of the downward "driving after revocation spiral" from her own experiences, so be it. The reason that Republican proposals to require driver's licenses/picture i.d. to vote would disenfrancise so many inner city residents is that the majority of young inner city residents don't have a driver's license. If Jessica adds her support to efforts to get them licensed, so much the better. And studies at UW-Milwaukee show the single biggest barrier to employment to young inner city residents is not lack of a high school diploma, it is lack of a driver's license.

In summary, e wouldn't want to see Jessica obstructed in exercising her right to vote because she didn't have one, would we?


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