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Assembly speaker favors limiting on-line court records

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The Wisconsin Assembly Speaker is the latest to support limits of what you can see on the state’s computerized court records. Republican Robin Vos tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that people with baseless criminal charges and long-resolved lawsuits should not be quote, “scarlet letters that unfairly dog citizens through life.”

The online court system is extremely popular. Over 7.5-million viewers checked out a half-billion court files during the year ending in August. Landlords and journalists are common users. So are people checking out criminal histories of those who want to date them. Vos says he doesn’t want to stop that activity. But he does say that records of those not found guilty should eventually be removed after a period of time.

Freshman Assembly Republican Mary Czaja of Irma is drafting a bill on the subject – but it’s not known what it would include. Democrats have a bill to let the general public only see cases in which people were convicted. It’s the only bill that has reached the public hearing stage – but it’s not likely to pass, since no majority Republicans have expressed support. Another, more limited proposal would remove financial judgments from debtor’s online records eight years after they’re paid off. A third bill would let prostitution crimes be removed if the defendants are minors and victims of human trafficking.