In 1969 a federal civil lawsuit titled Michael L. Shakman, et al. vs. Democratic Organization of Cook County, et al., case number 69 C 2145, was filed by a group of plaintiffs against various defendants including the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County ("Clerk"). The goal of the lawsuit was to eliminate wherever possible, coercion and employment discrimination based on political considerations in government bodies throughout the State of Illinois.
In 1972, the Clerk’s Office entered into a Consent Decree which, among other things, prohibited the Clerk’s Office from “conditioning, basing or knowingly prejudicing or affecting any term or aspect of governmental employment, with respect to one who is at the time already a governmental employee, upon or because of any political reason or factor.” A subsequent order was entered in 1983 extending the protections to applicants for employment at the Clerk's Office, and a Revised Plan of Compliance governing implementation of the 1983 order was entered in 1984. The Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has retained jurisdiction over the case.
On August 10, 2018, Federal Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier entered the Supplemental Relief Order ("SRO"). An amended SRO was entered on June 19, 2019. The SRO is an agreement that Plaintiffs and the Clerk entered into to ensure that the Clerk makes all decisions relating to the employment actions involving non-Shakman-exempt employees based on merit and not on political reasons or factors. Judge Schenkier appointed the Honorable Clifford L. Meacham (ret.) as the Shakman Compliance Administrator for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County ("Clerk Compliance Administrator"). Clifford Meacham stepped down from this role effective March 11, 2019 and Judge Schenkier appointed Susan G. Feibus to the position.
There are a number of components to the Supplemental Relief Order and the Clerk Compliance Administrator’s duties. Some are in the process of being addressed and some will be addressed in due course.