Either you have been sued or you think you’re about to be sued. Maybe you lost paperwork. Maybe you moved recently and paperwork has been sent to your old address. Either way – what can you do to track the status of lawsuits?
If you’re being sued in Wisconsin, we’ve got a handy tool called CCAP. Although a lot of people aren’t wild about CCAP because it’s readily-accessible public information about things most people find embarrassing – it’s an incredibly helpful tool to keep track of cases so you’re not missing out on any important deadlines.
The good news – for my bankruptcy clients – is that your bankruptcy case will not show up on CCAP. Why? Simple. CCAP is for Wisconsin state court cases. Bankruptcy cases are filed in federal court.
How do I use CCAP?
- Point your browser to https://wcca.wicourts.gov/
- You’ll need to read the agreement and hit the “I Agree” button to proceed. You might also be prompted to pass a CAPTCHA test used to screen out data-mining robots.
Next, you’ll reach the simple search screen. There is an advanced search option, too, but for most uses, the simple search will work just fine. If you already know that a lawsuit has been filed against you and have the case number, the quickest way to get specific information about that case is to search by citation (see the blue circle in the screenshot below). Simply select the county in which the lawsuit was filed from the drop down list, then type in the case number.
The format of each case number is the year the suit was filed (two or four digits), the case type (2 letters, usually CV or SC), and the serial number. You can leave out any hyphens and the first two digits of the year. If the serial number has any leading zeros, you can omit those, too. For example: 2016-CV-00001234 can be shortened to 16CV1234.
If you are checking to see IF a lawsuit has been filed against you, or if you just don’t know the case number, then search by your name (see the red circle in the screenshot above). You might want to do multiple searches for alternate spellings of your name (e.g. Jon, John, Jonathan, Jonothon), common misspellings, maiden names, or other aliases you might have used. If you have a common name, you might want to add your middle initial to help minimize the number of search results.
You’ll get a results page that will look something like this. You can click on any of the case numbers to get more detail about a case. The results will be sorted by year, with the most recent cases appearing at the top (although they are not necessarily sorted in order of filing date within a single year).
How can using CCAP help me?
There is all sorts of information you can get from CCAP. First – obviously – to find out what cases, if any, have been filed against you.
Once you find a case and click into it, you’ll see a screen that looks like this:
If you’ve recently moved and you’re not getting proper notices of the lawsuit, you can check CCAP to see which address they have listed for you (under PARTY DETAILS). If they do not have your correct address, you can contact the clerk of courts and find out how to update your address so that you receive the notices you need to receive.
(This particular case was filed very recently and involves a John Doe defendant, so there are no addresses shown here. Even if there were, I would have redacted them from the screenshot for privacy reasons.)
You can also get addresses and contact information for other parties to the lawsuit whom you may need to contact – including any attorneys who are representing the opposing party (again – not shown in this example).
The other most useful tool is FUTURE COURT ACTIVITY. This is where you can find out about any scheduled hearings or other deadlines that you need to be aware of.
For example – let’s say you have a home in foreclosure. A judgment was entered 6 months ago. A Sheriff’s Sale is scheduled in about 2 weeks. Since you have to be out by the Confirmation of Sale, you can use CCAP to watch for the scheduling of the Confirmation Hearing. Once that is scheduled – it will give you a pretty good idea of when you need to be out in 99% of cases.