AG Schimel Issues Formal Opinion on Public Records Law Notice
MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Brad Schimel issued a formal opinion today to Milwaukee City Attorney Grant F. Langley and nine other city attorneys and corporation counsel regarding the administration of the Wisconsin Public Records Law’s notice requirements. The opinion addresses four issues: whether Wis. Stat. § 19.356(2)(a)(1) notice is required if the record subject is a former or current employee; whether Wis. Stat. § 19.356(9) notice is required if the record subject is a former or current officer or employee of the authority holding a local or state public office; if notice to former employees and public office holders is required, what is the procedure when an authority cannot locate the record subject; and whether notice is required if the requested record is already publicly available.
Attorney General Schimel concluded that under Wis. Stat. § 19.356(2)(a)(1), notice is required if the record subject is a current or former employee, but Wis. Stat. § 19.356(9) notice is not required unless the record subject is a current local or state public officer holder. The attorney general also concluded that an authority should exercise reasonable diligence to locate and effectuate service to those entitled to notice and offered best practices in situations in which an authority cannot locate the record subject. Finally, the attorney general concluded that the law does not contain an exception to its notice requirements for records that are already publicly available. However, if the records were previously released pursuant to the public records law, no additional notice is required.
A copy of the formal opinion is attached.
Formal and informal opinions issued by Attorney General Schimel are available at: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/opinions/ag-opinions