Wisconsin Court Records
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Where to Find Wisconsin Civil Court Records
Civil court records in the State of Wisconsin are documents that contain details of court proceedings arising from legal disputes between people or institutions such as businesses. Civil case records generally include court transcripts, sworn statements, evidence, motions, oral arguments, witness testimonies, and docket sheets. Typically, civil cases are heard at the civil court division, following the state's legal system. The circuit courts are tasked with hearing, managing, and disseminating civil court records filed within their respective jurisdiction. While interested persons can get civil court records from the applicable records custodian, they may also be accessed through third-party websites such as Wisconsin.CourtRecords.Org.
Are Wisconsin Civil Court Records Public?
Yes, civil court records are considered public in Wisconsin. Pursuant to the Wisconsin Open Records Law, interested members of the public have access to records managed by government bodies including civil court records. However, some civil court records are deemed confidential by statute or court rule. Such records can include adoption, termination of parental rights, and guardianship records as well as financial details, social security number, and other sensitive information.
Types of Cases in Wisconsin Civil Courts
Cases in the Wisconsin civil courts are usually civil disputes between individuals or businesses. Most of these cases may involve financial issues or property disputes. Cases handled in Wisconsin civil courts include, but are not limited to:
- Tort claims and equitable claims
- Actions for evictions
- Real estate issues
- Breach of contract claims
- Marriage and divorce disputes
- Issues relating to guardianship and adoption of minors
- Paternity claims and child support
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in Wisconsin?
A major distinction between criminal cases and civil cases in Wisconsin is that criminal cases are initiated by the state against persons violating state laws while civil cases are disputes among individuals, businesses, and institutions. The end point of both case types is also different. Consequences in civil cases mostly involve monetary damages paid or forfeiture of properties. However, a defendant found guilty in a criminal case may face incarceration, probation, fines, and community service.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records in Wisconsin?
The office of the clerks of court handles the generation and management of Wisconsin civil court records. The clerk acts as the custodian of court records and interested persons may request records from the applicable clerk's office. Requesters may get records in-person or via mail, or online.
To obtain civil records in-person, requesters may need to visit the court location where the civil case filing happened. Interested individuals may get records from the clerk's office, following due procedures and payment of charges if there are any. Requestors may get the address and other contact details of all the clerks of court offices' addresses on the Clerks of circuit court directory. The record custodian may also require the requesters to provide some information about the civil case to ease the retrieval of records.
Requestors may also request records through the U.S mail. This method entails interested persons to prepare written requests that convey the required information about the case. The written request may be mailed to the address of the clerk's office, also available in the Clerks of circuit court directory. The clerk attends to the request and mails the records to the requestor if it is available for copying and inspection.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
Interested persons may access civil court records in Wisconsin on the court's website. They may also retrieve civil court records on third-party websites that offer such services. The Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) site gives the public access to records of civil cases heard at Wisconsin circuit courts. The WCCA displays information on nonconfidential civil cases which the clerk of court also maintains. Interested individuals may search for case information with full names, date of birth, county area, and case number. The general public also has access to records of civil cases handled by the Supreme court or the Appeal courts on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Case Access site. Requestors may search records with the case number, appeal number, business name, attorney name, location, and filing date. Information on cases is stored on the WCCA for as long as the clerk of court retains it. Civil cases information may be accessible generally for 20 years. However, The public cannot access confidential court records on these online platforms.
What Is Included in a Wisconsin Civil Court Record?
The information on Wisconsin civil court cases may differ following the kind of suit or claim filed at the court. However, some general details include:
- Description of the case type
- Case number
- Names and personal details of the parties involved
- Documents filed such as complaint letters and settlement agreements
- Status of the case
- Final Verdict
How to Access Wisconsin Civil Court Records for Free
Interested persons may obtain Wisconsin civil court records for free electronically. Some county courts may provide electronic public access terminals where interested persons may access records for free. The court's website also provides platforms, like the WCCA, which give free access to civil case information. However, there may be restrictions of some civil court case information on these platforms. Requesters may need to visit the clerk's office in person or send a mail to get the full information on a civil case.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in Wisconsin
Under the Wisconsin Motions to Seal statute, a party involved in a civil case may seek to seal non-confidential records in a court. The party may file a motion to seal a record or redact some information at the court and the motion must be served to all the parties involved in the civil case. The filing party is also required to provide reasons for the proposed restriction of the records from public access. After the filing of a motion to seal records, the court may temporarily seal the said records till a hearing takes place. The court decides if there is enough reason to seal the records, following the legal process. If ascertained, the court may order the sealing of a record or the redaction of the information wanted by the filing party. The court may also decide to seal records without a motion.
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in Wisconsin
Interested persons may access sealed civil court records by challenging the court's decision to restrict such records. A sealed record is restricted from public access. However, the record may still be available for the court's use or to a law enforcement agency. Some information including social security number, employer or taxpayer identification number, financial account number, driver license number, and passport number are automatically protected and redacted in civil court records. Requestors of sealed records may file a petition at the courthouse that manages the sealed record they desire. The judge may grant requestors access to the sealed record if they are eligible to retrieve it.