Access & Rules of Evidence

Wisconsin has an open records law that gives citizens the right to inspect public records, unless specific statutory provisions dictate otherwise. In general, this legislation directs all public authorities to identify some staff person as the legal guardian of the records produced by the authority.

In addition, this legislation directs that each authority shall display a notice informing the public of the procedures by which access to public documents can be attained. An authority is allowed to charge for the access to, and/or reproduction of, public documents. If any authority refuses to disclose or delays granting access to records which are eligible for public viewing, persons requesting access to such records can have recourse to legal remedies.

For more information on the specific provisions of the open records law, see Chapter 19.31-19.39 of the Wisconsin Statutes:

  • 19.31 Declaration of Open Records Policy
  • 19.32 Definitions
  • 19.33 Legal Custodians
  • 19.34 Procedural Information
  • 19.35 Access to records, fees
  • 19.36 Limitations on access and withholding
  • 19.365 Rights of data subject to challenge, authority corrections
  • 19.37 Enforcement and Penalties
  • 19.39 Interpretation by Attorney General

Along with the State’s Open Records Law, Federal Rules of Evidence also help determine the admissibility of public records in court. For more information about open records requests, visit the Office of Legal Affairs webpage on Public Records Law.