Historical Wisconsin Statutes in the News

Two news items involving historical Wisconsin statutes:

  • A Capital Times writer authenticates Wikipedia claim that the nation’s first open records law was passed in Wisconsin shortly after it became a state.
    WI Revised Statutes, 1849 – Chapter 10, Section 137 required every sheriff, circuit court clerk, county board clerk, register of deeds and county treasurer in the state to “open for the examination of any person” all of their books and papers. Any officer who neglected to comply “shall forfeit for each day he shall so neglect, the sum of five dollars.”

  • JS Online reports that “state inmates are using – and many say abusing – an unusual, 168-year-old law to spark often meritless investigations of correctional officers, tying up courts and creating new headaches for officers.
    Under the state’s John Doe law, citizens can force judges to hold hearings by sending them letters alleging a crime has been committed.”