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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Protecting Victim Privacy - “After the Fact”

August 12, 2014

In this day of the Internet, too often just when crime victims believe that the criminal justice chapter of the victimization is over they discover that their personal information is available in court records that are accessible online. Thus our work to protect victim privacy must include front-end and back-end advocacy! 

Recently a victim’s attorney contacted NCVLI after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that included the victim’s name, other identifying information, and details of the crime – all of which were unnecessary to the resolution of the appeal.  A basic online search of the victim’s name results in the court opinion being among the first hits.  This reality is negatively impacting the victim’s ability to secure employment, feel safe, and heal. Working with the victim’s attorney, we crafted a legal memorandum arguing that the victim’s rights to privacy and access to justice require that the court issue a redacted opinion that refers to the victim by pseudonym and removes all identifying information and irrelevant facts.  Once the court issues a redacted opinion the next steps will be issuing Internet take-down letters.  We will continue to work with the victim’s attorney to fight for this victim’s privacy!