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GOP senator confident in latest proposal to limit CCAP

By: Eric Heisig//January 16, 2014//

GOP senator confident in latest proposal to limit CCAP

By: Eric Heisig//January 16, 2014//

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A proposal that would remove information from the state’s online courts website about cases in which a person was acquitted is poised to receive heavy Republican support in the coming weeks.

The bill, which started circulating for sponsors Wednesday, is sponsored by state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, and state Rep. Mary Czaja, R-Irma. If passed, it would require the state courts’ office to remove information about felony cases from the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website within 120 days of being notified that charges were dismissed or that a defendant was found not guilty.

The same would go for civil forfeiture cases, though there would be a 90-day timetable.

And unlike a similar attempt made earlier this year by Rep. Evan Goyke and Sen. Lena Taylor, both Democrats from Milwaukee, the measure may get the support it needs to pass before the current session ends in April.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, is supporting the bill, spokeswoman Kit Beyers said. Grothman said Wednesday that he had not yet spoken to any legislators who were against the idea.

Grothman said he is confident the bill will pass during the current session. He chairs the Committee on Judiciary and Labor, which is where the bill likely will end up once it is introduced in the Senate.

“I’m somewhat shocked that people in the courts system have allowed this injustice to … go on without banging down our door,” Grothman said.

Czaja did not return messages seeking comment, though a member of her staff forwarded the bill to a reporter. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office did not immediately return a message Thursday.

Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, or WCCA, is commonly referred to as CCAP — Consolidated Court Automation Programs – which is a statewide, computer case management system for the circuit courts. CCAP operates the WCCA system as its public access component. It gets between 3 million and 5 million page views a day.

Despite support, the bill is expected to run into the same detractors that have opposed similar bills in the past decade. Each attempt to remove some information from CCAP has been met with strong opposition from media and apartment organizations for what they see as an attempt to limit a valuable resource.

“There are periodic efforts to remove from public view certain information that people would rather not be public,” Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said. “It comes up again and again and again.”

Wisconsin Housing Alliance Executive Director Ross Kinzler said “CCAP is probably the most used resource by landlords in Wisconsin, at least for a nominal background check,” and that the organization doesn’t support measures to limit information on the website. His organization opposed the Democrats’ version of a similar bill last year.

“It has been a convenient [tool], and it ought to be reflective of what the court records actually say,” Kinzler said.

Gary Goyke, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Rental Housing Legislative Council and Evan Goyke’s father, also opposed last year’s bill. He said his organization will be closely monitoring the new bill.

“We are fans of [CCAP],” Gary Goyke said. “We will look very carefully at any legislation to change it.”

The bill, Gary Goyke said, does not address crimes that a judge orders to be expunged from someone’s record. That may be an option the council would support, he added.

Grothman said the paper records held in the clerk of circuit court offices in each county would not be affected by the changes proposed.

The Joint Legislative Council set up committees in 2007 and 2010 to look at possible legislation to allow records to be expunged for certain offenses and for those who were acquitted. However, neither committee ended up making any recommendations.

Evan Goyke also said he will be introducing legislation that would alter how expunction is handled by judges.


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