Notice to Court Users Regarding Filing Protected Information
Please be advised that there has been an important change to circuit court practice. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has adopted a rule petition creating Wis. §801.19, regarding protected information in circuit court records. It is the responsibility of the person filing a document to ensure that confidential information is not included in a public document. The clerk will not review filings to find confidential information. Specifically, filers are required to protect the following personal identifiers that may be found in court records: (1) social security numbers, (2) employer and tax identification numbers, (3) financial account numbers (bank accounts, credit cards, passwords, and PINs), (4) driver license and state identification numbers, and (5) passport numbers.
FAQs About Protecting Information in Court Records
Protection of Information in Circuit Court Records
The Supreme Court has approved Rule Petition 14-04, Protection of Information in Circuit Court Records.
As of July 1, 2016, three new statutes will apply to all documents filed in circuit court.
Wis. Stat. § 801.19 protects five specific numbers often found in court records: social security, employer and tax identification, financial account (such as banks and credit cards), driver license, and passport numbers. The rule applies in all cases, even in confidential matters such as juvenile and guardianship proceedings.
For documents filed on or after July 1, the rule requires that these five kinds of numbers be omitted or redacted from documents filed with the circuit court. If the numbers are necessary to the court proceeding, the party must submit them on a new confidential form. The court may require the submitting party to produce the original unredacted document if necessary, but it need not be routinely submitted.
Forms are available to request redaction of protected information from previously filed documents and from transcripts. The rule provides options to the courts for dealing with improperly submitted information.
Redaction is not required for electronic citations and certain other documents filed through TraCS and PROTECT. CCAP will mask the driver license number from public view, but the court and interface partners will still be able to see it. A list of these documents is being distributed to clerks, TraCS and PROTECT users. Access to protected information for parties and justice agencies is still allowed as provided by law.
Wis. Stat. § 801.20 requires parties to identify certain documents and case types as confidential at the time they are filed. A checklist and instructions are provided on a new form.
The director’s office has also identified case types and documents that will be automatically treated as confidential without a motion. Proceedings for adoption, guardianship, children’s and juvenile justice codes, substance abuse and mental health, and protective services and placement will be recognized confidential without any motion or notice by the parties. Likewise, presentence investigation reports, family financial disclosures, and confidential petition addendum forms will be recognized as confidential without a motion.
Wis. Stat. § 801.21 provides a procedure for motions to seal. A party seeking to protect information not covered above must move to seal or redact the information and must specify the authority for restricting public access. This rule is procedural in nature and is not intended to expand on the current case law. The information may be filed under a temporary seal, making it inaccessible to the public or even to the other party until the court rules on the motion. New forms are provided.
The state court website contains additional information with links to the new statutes, forms, informational brochures for the public, and frequently asked questions. See WI Courts.
Quick Links to assist you with protecting confidential information:
(1) learn how to redact a document or file a motion to seal;
(2) see what documents you need to identify as confidential when filing; and
(3) browse frequently asked questions.
(4) forms available for protection of information (redaction, confidentiality and sealing)