Wisconsin Court Records
Due to the increasing capacity of digital storage in our new era of online access, court records are more highly available than they have ever been. This expediency is not lost on those who formerly had to appear in person at the courthouse or law library of record to request documents during business hours only. Now the public and legal professionals alike have quick and easy access to Wisconsin court documents through the convenience of the Internet.
Wisconsin has a traditional judicial branch with multiple levels of courts each documenting their own proceedings to later be referenced as publicly accessible court records, a valuable resource of the state.
History of Wisconsin Court Records
The judicial system framework was established when Wisconsin became a state in 1848. Similarly to today, the original courts were laid out as a Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, Courts of Probate, and Justices of the Peace. The first Supreme Court was comprised of the five justices who presided over the Circuit Courts, and were required to meet in Madison at least once annually until a separate court could be established. It was in 1853 that voters were able to elect three justices to serve on the first regularly meeting Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
In 1959 legislation was brought about to reorganize the lower courts of Wisconsin. Over the next several years the specialty statutory courts were phased out to make room for a more uniformed system of County Courts. This, of course, created better organized and more accessible court records as a byproduct.
Wisconsin Court Records Availability
Wisconsin Circuit Court provides online access for the public to search the court records of criminal and civil cases. The simple case search feature allows you to search the records by party name, date of birth, business name or case number. The methods for finding court cases from the appellate courts are similar and you may search by appeal number, Circuit Court case number, party name, business name, attorney name, or class code.
Records not open to the public include adoptions, juvenile delinquency, child protection, termination of parental rights, guardianship and civil commitments.
Additionally, the Wisconsin State Library is open to the public and provides educational materials on the structure, history and research of the judicial system.
Main Court Information
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin has jurisdiction over all other courts of the state as the court of last resort, and can preside over original actions. It is composed of a Chief Justice and six associate justices who are elected for 10-year terms. The Supreme Court is responsible for overseeing all cases that require interpretation of the state or federal constitution, as well as upholding the Bar of Wisconsin Law Professionals by admitting and dismissing attorneys and justices. The Court of Appeals is the state’s intermediate appellate court, which was founded in 1978. It is divided into four districts and presided over by 16 justices.
The caseload of the Wisconsin Supreme Court has a steady record of filings and dispositions. In 2014 there were 792 filings and 860 dispositions. Comparatively, there were 810 filings in 2007 with 826 dispositions reached by the court.