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Public Records & Open Meetings Handbook, The Wisconsin
  • AK0199
  • 978-1-57862-266-5

382+ pp.; 4th ed. 2009

(Includes 2014-15 supplement)

Please note: The format of the new fourth edition has been changed from paperback to loose-leaf for ease of frequent updating to keep you current.

Wisconsin is a "blue sky" state; there is a statutory presumption in favor of access to governmental records and meetings. But there are limits to that access. In 2003, the Legislature amended the Public Records Law to provide additional rights for the subjects of public records. If you don't know what these limits and rights are, you need the State Bar CLE Books' publication, The Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook.

Learn the two laws

The Handbook, produced in cooperation with the State Bar's Government Lawyers Division, thoroughly explores Wisconsin’s laws on public records and open meetings:

  • Part One discusses the practical applications of the Public Records Law, including the notice provisions created by the 2003 amendment. There is also guidance on requesting records, responding to records requests, and applicable time limits.
  • Part Two takes a practical look at the Open Meetings Law, discussing the definition of open, notice requirements, when a meeting may be closed to the public, and enforcement.

Both laws are reprinted in full in the appendix, as are other useful references.

Stay current with the regular updates

The 2014–15 supplement for the Wisconsin Public Records & Open Meetings Handbook provides an opportunity for both new and experienced government lawyers to catch up on recent developments including:

  • A Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruling concerning the relevance of the requestor’s identity with respect to a public records request
  • Limitations on the circumstances under which personal identifying information can be released under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, under recent federal court decisions
  • A circuit court prohibition against the use of the records in a criminal case in which defense counsel inappropriately obtained pupil records directly from the school rather than through the required subpoena
  • Expansion of the list of entities covered by the Open Meetings Law
  • A Wisconsin Attorney General opinion concerning election-canvassing activities conducted by various entities in the state

Summary of contents

I. Public Records Law

  1. Overview of Wisconsin’s Public Records Law
  2. Making and Responding to a Public Records Request
  3. Privileges
  4. Access to Personnel Records in the Custody of a Public Official
  5. Law Enforcement Records
  6. Pupil and Juvenile Records in the Possession of a School District
  7. Contractors’ Records
  8. Fees a Records Custodian May Charge
  9. Enforcement
  10. Issues Involving Electronic Public Records
  11. Freedom of Information Act

II. Open Meetings Law

  1. Coverage of the Open Meetings Law
  2. Definition of "Meeting"
  3. Accessibility and Openness
  4. Notice
  5. Voting and Record Keeping
  6. Closed Meetings
  7. Enforcement and Penalties


  1. Selected Public Records and Open Meetings Rules and Statutes
  2. Sample Notices Concerning Record Requests
  3. Key Cases
  4. Statutory Exceptions
  5. City of Baraboo Joint Review Board Meeting: Public Notice
  6. Verified Open Meetings Law Complaint
  7. Article: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Verbal Conversation and Decreasing Your Legal Liability

Keep Wisconsin government open

Whether you represent a governmental entity or employee, or a private citizen seeking information from the government, this handbook will be your guide to Wisconsin's Public Records and Open Meetings laws.

Order your copy today!

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