Supreme Court Enacts Rule Protecting Crime Victims

Mar 6 2015
Supreme Court Enacts Rule Protecting Crime Victims
Identifiers, initials used to protect names

MADISON — Crime victims’ names will be protected following a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision to require all Court of Appeals briefs and opinions to refer to crime victims by their initials or by a pseudonym rather than by name.


 “We all rely on victims to report crime and to participate in the criminal justice system. In return we need to treat them with fairness, dignity and the utmost respect of their privacy, and this rule does that,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel.


The Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services (OCVS) has heard from many victims over the years who were concerned that personal information and details of their victimization is widely accessible through internet access to appellate briefs and opinions.  When court documents use victims’ full names, personal and sensitive case information is easily retrieved through unrelated internet searches—such as a general internet search by a prospective employer.


The Judicial Council to studied the issue and provided a recommendation for a new Supreme Court Rule that would help protect the identity of crime victims in such cases.   


“By enacting this rule, the supreme court intends to better protect the privacy and dignity interests of crime victims.  It requires appellate briefs to identify crime victims by use of identifiers, as specified…unless there is good cause for noncompliance.”


The rule will go into effect on July 1, 2015.