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Shakman v. City of Chicago

September 1, 2009

MICHAEL L. SHAKMAN, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen United States District Court

Wayne R. Andersen District Judge

MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the Court on the carefully drafted motion of Movants, anonymous employees of the City of Chicago, to have documents filed under seal and removed from the public record. Movants also seek to prohibit the Inspector General, and any individual receiving a copy of the Inspector General's Reports, from making further public comment on the contents in his Reports. Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to Movants' motion. The City of Chicago Inspector General also filed a response to Movants' motion in which he represents that he discussed the issue of the public filing of his Reports with the Corporation Counsel for the City, and she did not object to the Reports being filed publicly. In his response, the Inspector General also states that he will abide by whatever decision the Court reaches on this issue.

For the following reasons, the Movants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

On March 5, 2009, the Monitor filed a Report relating to, what she described as, the City's apparent non-compliance with important provisions of the City's 2007 hiring plan ("Plan"). On March 30, 2009, we ordered the Inspector General to investigate the Monitor's allegations and report back to the Court. This action was authorized and proper pursuant to the Court's retained jurisdiction under the Accord to investigate and enforce the City's compliance with the Accord. Accord ¶ I.D. Pursuant to our retained jurisdiction to enforce the Accord and the hiring plan, the Court's March 30, 2009 Order stated:

1. The Monitor shall refer the concerns raised in her report to the Office of Compliance and the Inspector General which shall concurrently review and investigate on a coordinated basis each of the five hiring incidents described in the Monitor's Report. The Office of Compliance and the Inspector General shall each report in writing regarding their respective review and investigation by June 20, 2009 to the Mayor of the City of Chicago and provide copies to the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources, the Court, the Monitor, the Corporation Counsel, and Plaintiffs' Counsel. There is no language in our March 30, 2009 Order which states that the Inspector General's investigation results would be confidential, contrary to Movants' suggestion. Indeed, the Order authorizes distribution of reports to a number of persons without any confidentiality limitations.

On June 26, 2009, after properly obtaining an extension of time, the Inspector General filed his initial Report. The Inspector General's Report dealt with alleged violations of the hiring plan and, thus, with alleged violations of the Accord. Now, Movants, who are not parties to this case, ask the Court to order the Inspector General to file all further Court ordered reports under seal. They seek to seal the Inspector General's June 26, 2009 Report and to limit disclosure of such reports, past and future, to the Court and parties authorized by the Chicago Municipal Code - which would not permit disclosure to the Court's Monitor or to the Plaintiffs or their counsel. Movants also seek to prohibit anyone receiving a copy "from making public comment on the contents, information, recommendations in the Report..." Motion at 7.

DISCUSSION

I. Movants' Motion Fails To Comply With Court Rules

At the outset, we note that Movants have not complied with the relevant rules for individuals who wish to participate in judicial proceedings in which they are not parties. Local Rule 5.6 states that "no ... motion [except for a motion to intervene], or other document shall be filed in any case by any person who is not a party thereto, unless approved by the court. Absent such an order, the clerk shall not accept any document tendered by a person who is not a party." Movants' failure to comply with this Rule alone warrants denying the Motion.

Further, the Motion is remarkable in not naming the individuals on whose behalf it is filed. Individuals may not anonymously invoke the Court's powers to take action. Opponents are entitled to know with whom they are litigating, so that they can respond to arguments based on facts and law relevant to the individuals involved. Thus, the Motion is defective for failure to identify the parties on whose behalf it is filed and for failing to obtain prior Court approval.

II. Movants Are Not Substantively Entitled To The Relief Sought

Moreover, on a substantive basis, Movants cannot meet the heavy burden imposed by controlling case law on those who seek to close public access to court proceedings. In addition, this case presents the strongest possible level of public interest in ...


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