The state of Mississippi asked U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves on Monday to stop the implementation of several parts of the remedial plan pending the state's now upcoming appeal of the his September 7 ruling.
The reasons the state cites in its brief is that if Reeves doesn't award a partial stay, the state will suffer irreparable injuries from undue interference with its mental health system and a fundamental alteration of that system in both costs and structure.
The state wants several parts (but not all) of the remedial plan devised by special master Dr. Michael Hogan stayed from implementation.
One of those is the requirement that provide Peer Support Services at all of its county mental health centers around the state in fiscal 2022 (which began on July 1). The legal team says that funding for this requirement was not appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature
The state also wants struck the requirement that the state fund 250 CHOICE housing vouchers for fiscal 2022 and 250 more in fiscal 2023 and sustain funding for those services. Those services cost $2 million each fiscal year until after 2023, when the requirement for an additional vouchers will double.
The clinical review process of 100 to 150 patients annually is also a component that the state wants excised from the decision. The state says it will have to restructure its system to design a clinical review process that doesn't exist and the state says that will cost additional tax dollars.
Attorneys for the state also want omitted from the plan the requirement that the state develop an implementation plan within 120 days. The state says it again will be forced to restructure its mental health system and incur additional costs during the process.
The federal government argued that the state's mental health system violates the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C., in which the court says individuals with mental disabilities have the right to live in the community under the Americans with Disabilities Act rather than be institutionalized.
Reeves ruled in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice in the 2016 lawsuit over the state’s over reliance on institutionalization of the seriously mentally ill on September 7.
In his order, Reeves specified that the court-appointed special master Dr. Michael Hogan will transition as court-appointed monitor and he'll allowed to conduct investigations, interview mental health officials, patients and families, hold hearings or take evidence. His term will last for three years initially in a term that can be renewed by the court.
The Department of Justice commenced an investigation in 2011 and sent a findings letter to then-Gov. Haley Barbour. The state and the DOJ attempted to negotiate a solution acceptable to both sides, but the DOJ later filed a lawsuit against the state on August 11, 2016 in U.S. District Court.
The federal government won on September 3, 2019 in a bench trial conducted by Reeves. Reeves ruled in favor of the federal government and designated a special master, Hogan, to help the court draft a remedial plan.