Rep. Kelda Roys explains court records bill

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In an interview with The Sconz, Rep. Kelda Roys explained the reasoning behind a bill she co-authored with Reps. Marlin Schneider and Fred Kessler to restrict public access to certain court records. The bill, which recently passed the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Homeland Security, would prohibit the Consolidated Court Automations Programs website from displaying pending cases and dismissed cases. The website would only be allowed to put up information relating to convictions.

Roys, a freshman representative and UW-Law alum, used to work for the Innocence Project, a non-profit org which uses DNA evidence to exonerate convicts, and says that the cause of the wrongly accused has remained close to her heart. “Working there, I learned how innocent people can have their lives gone in an instant. But even people who are just accused of a crime can also have their lives ruined.”

Roys worries that CCAP allows employers and landlords, who are prohibited by law to discriminate against tenants or employees based on arrest record, to do so anyways. “The landlords who run background checks say it ‘provides us with context,'” Roys said.

Nevertheless, anybody will still be allowed to access the records that will be taken off of CCAP by contacting the police department and requesting them. Roys quipped that it will “make the cost of breaking the law a little bit higher.”

The most puzzling aspect of the law, which has been criticized by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, is the exception it grants “journalists,” who will continue to have unrestricted access to all court records. What is a journalist? Am I a journalist? Unsurprisingly, this law comes courtesy of the same legislator –– Marlin Schneider –– who wanted to grant certain tax exemptions to newspapers. Again, what is a newspaper in this day and age? Roys did not have a clear answer. She admitted that many mainstream reporters have an agenda, and are more interested in dirt than real news.

In response to similar questions, Rep. Marlin Schneider sent me an enormous testimonial from a constituent who has had his record compromised by a misunderstanding relating to unemployment benefits.

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2 Responses to “Rep. Kelda Roys explains court records bill”

  1. Kateandgracie Says:

    I saw a news report tonight in which Scheider mentioned his concern about a man who had been charged with seven felonies, convicted and subsequently ‘exonerated’ in, I think he said, the US Supreme Court. Do you know to what case he’s referring? I can’t find anything on this.

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