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April 15, 2011

WSLL Recommends: WI Public Records & Open Meetings Handbook

A good "one stop" source of practical information on public records or open meetings law is the Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook, by Melanie R. Swank (4th edition published by State Bar of Wisconsin, 2009). While previous editions of this title were published as paperbacks, this one is in the State Bar's familiar "brown binder" looseleaf format.

The author is an attorney with the Milwaukee City Attorney's office, where she handles all city and school public records and open meetings issues. 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 Wisconsin's public records law and offers guidance on requesting records, responding to records requests, and applicable time limits. The 4th addition contains a new chapter on the federal Freedom of Information Act. 
  • Part Two takes a practical look at the open meetings law, discussing notice requirements, when a meeting may be closed to the public, and enforcement. 
  • Appendices include full reprints of the state public records and open meetings laws, sample requests and responses to requests for public records, sample open meetings notices, synopses of key public records and open meetings cases, an annotated list of statutory exceptions to public records or open meetings laws, a sample verified open meetings law complaint, and a private practice attorney's advice on using email in the business environment.

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