CCAP is Consolidated Court Automation Programs in WI
Public Access to Wisconsin Circuit Court Records
CCAP stands for Consolidated Court Automation Programs. CCAP is really the information technology (IT) branch of the Wisconsin courts, supporting the functions of the courts with hardware maintenance, software updates, and managing the circuit courts caseload. One function of CCAP is the public access website, Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, or WCCA, which provides a necessary means for the public to view court records, legally required by Wisconsin Open Records Law.
As the workload on Wisconsin's courts increases, so do the cost and scale of providing efficient access to information, often a critical ingredient for justice. Wisconsin's Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP) serves the information technology needs of the courts while providing a mechanism for other data products and services to be developed by private sector companies like Court Data Technologies using the wealth of information available in the circuit court databases.
CCAP's Role to the Wisconsin Courts
Under the Director of State Courts, CCAP supports the IT needs of the entire Wisconsin Court System, including the appellate courts. The primary function of WI CCAP is its case management system, integrating case file and court calendar information, permitting court data to be collected, maintained and retrieved in a consistent fashion. CCAP provides custom software, hardware, training, and technical support to the clerks of circuit court, registers in probate, juvenile clerks, circuit court judges and circuit court staff.
Wisconsin Circuit Court Access - WCCA
Most people associate CCAP with the well-known web site for the circuit court, Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA), which provides efficient and convenient public access to court case records. A partner website, WSCCA, provides public access to cases filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Both WCCA and WSCCA contain information from only those portions of the case files that are open records and otherwise accessible by law to an individual.
Recently, changes to the public Web site were implemented. The WCCA Oversight Committee made more than 30 recommendations for tweaks and fine tuning. The substance of these changes does not restrict access to the court records. Rather, the changes attempt to achieve clarity of information and encourage enlightened use by improvements in the site design.
CCAP also provides a number of other important functions for the clerks of circuit court. Two such functions are jury management and financial management. WI CCAP has a number of specialized interagency interfaces that automate the sharing of court data, including interfaces with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, the FBI, the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Crime Information Bureau, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
CCAP does a great job of doing the things that it is charged with doing: managing cases, legal forms, finances and related matters for the courts; sharing information with other agencies in Wisconsin and nationwide; and, providing convenient access to those court records that are subject to open scrutiny by all individuals under Wisconsin law.
Mining CCAP Court Case Records for Information
While CCAP has a wealth of data within its case management system, creating exceptional opportunities for mining the data for valuable information, CCAP has neither the mission nor the funding to provide all things to all people in this regard.
Attorneys, academics, and others have used WCCA for research in the past, and are aware of the limitations of the WCCA Web site as a research tool. WCCA was designed for the public "need to know," not for attorney fact-finding or other research. The site was never intended to serve as a tool for analysis or statistical scrutiny.
Fortunately, CCAP solves this problem of limited research capacity by allowing others to solve the problem for them. CCAP allows companies like ours, Court Data Technologies, to access a specialized interface to the open records court data. Once we retrieve bulk court data, we can manipulate the raw data to create value. This reshaping of data, properly done with an understanding of the relationships between pieces of data, transforms a collection of court data into information that, over time, can reveal patterns, trends, exceptions, and systematic relationships.
These patterns have potential value in their predictive capacity. For example, in criminal matters, defense attorneys can seek out analogous cases to frame the range of possibilities in sentencing and plea arrangements. In civil matters, attorneys can find the frequency and range of money judgments against specific debtors. Filtering and sorting the court records, limited options on the WCCA Web site, are unlimited once the data resides on our servers.
Importantly, the data available via SOAP is the same data available from the website, no more, no less. That means some of the shortcomings of the public website, such as the inability to positively identify individuals, are still present in the bulk data. Neither WCCA nor SOAP include drivers license numbers from traffic cases, or the exact birth date for non-criminal cases. The JUSTIS ID is only used in Milwaukee County, and the Fingerprint ID is available in less than three percent of criminal cases statewide.
Public access to scanned documents or imaged documents contained in circuit court files is not possible with either WCCA or the SOAP interface, due to practical problems with removing personal identification within those documents. Neither WCCA nor SOAP include extraneous actions such as gubernatorial pardons, appellate decisions, and administrative agency determinations.