Cutting access to CCAP

CCAP is still rearing it’s head in the realm of open records in Wisconsin. The most recent coverage is this editorial from the Appleton Post-Crescent: Don’t cut access to court records. While there is not a lot of meat in the editorial itself, with the exception of this line: “Perhaps a better solution is to provide more detailed information, rather than less”, there is a lively conversation in the comments. Some pulls from that:

Yes, “the records would still exist in their original form in courthouses across the state”. They need to. You do understand that. And they are still public record. It just takes a bit more work to see them. Personally I think it should take more work to see them online as well. People should have to go to the courthouse and register, free of charge, to view the online records. –jtepp1

OK, this is just stupid. Open records are open records — what purpose does making them harder to access serve? I know it’s not fun to think that there might be nosy people out there looking you up, but… that’s one of those rights we have as Americans.

AfternoonSkulker has a better take on things:

Anyone accessing the records can see that charges were dropped or dismissed.

The idea of open records is that by making the system transparent, we can let the sun shine in on those proceedings. If a prosecutor is making unwise charging decisions, or the cops are bringing weak cases, we need to know.

True. The CCAP records in question might be far more enlightening as resources for people interested in law enforcement procedures than as resources for snoops. This comment also brings to light the notion that public records are not simply tools for buttinskies to bother hard working government officials, rather they are a tool for the public to be better informed about the inner workings of our government. So along with the right to the freedom of information we have as residents of the US, we have a duty to exercise our rights in an effort to rule ourselves.

So make open records requests for e-mails, look up your neighbors on CCAP, see if you can find out how much the school board spends on pencils every year — you’re doing your civic duty!


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