Wis. public court record access may be threatened

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Wisconsin court officials fear the court's data management system, including a popular site that allows anyone to easily look up the criminal records of friends and neighbors, could be on shaky ground if the governor's proposed budget breaks up its funding mechanism.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget would end a dedicated funding stream for Consolidated Court Automation Programs, the data management system for the state courts system. State law now gives the system $6 out of every $21.50 charged as part of the Justice Information System Surcharge included in most court filing fees. Under the new proposal, all fee revenue would go to the Department of Administration, which would give the money to the system and a range of other programs. It would also cut the system's funding by 10 percent.

Jean Bousquet, CCAP spokeswoman, said the switch would allow DOA to move money to other programs in the future. If that happens, Consolidated Court Automated Programs would have to consolidate or cut back on non-essential services, and the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access database would likely be on the shortlist of cuts.

The WCCA site provides detailed and updated information on all past and pending court cases in the Wisconsin circuit courts system and is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Bousquet said while they hope cuts are not necessary, the system would likely deal with budget cuts through gradual moves.


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