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Plans for federal monitor for Dorothy Brown’s office finalized

Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

Plans to place a federal monitor in Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office have been finalized, according to a letter obtained by the Sun-Times.

Now that the Aug. 10th order is in place, an examination of the office and its embattled leader can begin.

According to the letter, the order was entered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier.

As expected Clifford Meacham, who has previously served as a retired circuit court judge, has been put in place as the monitor to make sure the office complies with the Shakman decree, which prohibits patronage hiring practices. He was previously appointed in cases with the county’s Sheriff and Assessor’s offices.

Part of Meacham’s job will include investigating evidence of political discrimination between Jan. 1, 2014 and Aug. 9 2018.

Brown’s office has been under federal investigation for its pay-to-play hiring practices and other political wheeling and dealing. Earlier this year, authorities brought charges against two former employees for buying a job and lying to a grand jury.

The clerk’s office is obligated to comply with the investigation. In the letter, employees were told that speaking to Meacham is not a threat to their employment. The office is barred from taking action against anyone who comes forward.

In a statement, Brown said she’s confident that her office will meet Shakman standards and is in full support of the Shakman process “because I feel that it is vitally important that everyone is treated fairly in all employment decisions.”

“The presence of the appointed Compliance Administrator who will conduct the Shakman review will help to bring an end to all of the false allegations that have been made against the Clerk’s Office,” the statement reads in part. “The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County will continue to work with the Compliance Administrator to ensure that the process runs smoothly.”