Cavey v. Walrath was a case before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in 1999 concerning the definition of public funding.
This case established that public funding was not required to come from tax levies and could come in the form of any money delivered from a public coffer.
- Patricia Cavey submitted a records request to Legal Aid Society for payroll records and contracts with the county of Milwaukee.
- When Legal Aid Society rejected the request, Cavey filed suit.
- The trial court ruled in favor of Legal Aid, dismissing the lawsuit.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the Legal Aid Society, determining that because the money received by legal aid did not come from property tax levees, it did not qualify as public funding. However, the court did acknowledge that if the Legal Aid Society were a public body, its payroll records and its contracts with the county would in fact be public records.
The Court of appeals overturned the decision of the trial court. It first rejected the trial courts contention that funding had to come from property tax. Instead, the court felt that the statutory language placed no such restrictions on where funding comes from, and instead adopting the policy that any and all state and municipal funding constituted public funding. Based on this determination, the court overturned the decision of the trial court and instead ruled in favor of Cavey, ordering the documents released.