Prior to the hearing, both the United States and the State of Mississippi had already agreed and recommended to the court that Special Master Dr. Michael Hogan, who crafted the remedy plan, should be the monitor. His remedy plan was based primarily on the recommendations that the State submitted, with the addition of monitoring and a clinical review of people receiving services.
While the parties had agreed on the appointment of Dr. Hogan as monitor, they disagreed during the hearing on some of the more critical aspects of the monitor’s role, such as whether the monitor should be able to hire staff, or speak with state officials, providers or individuals who are receiving services. In addition, the parties disagreed on who should pay for the monitor and any staff the monitor chose to hire.
Now Judge Reeves’s order of appointment resolves each of the issues; monitoring and compliance, the monitor’s authority, payment of the monitor, and access of the monitor and the United States. In the order he says that “…the Monitor shall assess compliance with each obligation in the Court’s Remedial order” and that the monitor shall provide the state with technical assistance. The order allows the monitor to speak with state officials, providers and individuals receiving services, and requires the monitor to provide a written compliance report to the court every 6 months.
The order of appointment also allows the monitor to retain staff, requires the state to provide reports and data needed to assess compliance, and allows the monitor to convene meetings of the parties. The order appoints Dr. Hogan as the monitor for an initial period of three years and subjects him to evaluation by the court. On the issue of payment of the monitor, Judge Reeves requires Dr. Hogan to submit an annual budget to the court for approval, and requires the State to bear the cost of the monitor and/or any staff.
Finally, in the order of appointment it is made clear that Dr. Hogan and any staff he retains, as well as the United States, shall have complete access to “…persons, employees, residences, buildings, programs, services, documents, records (including medical and other records in unredacted form) and any other materials necessary to assess the State’s compliance with the Remedial Order.”
Judge Reeves also issued his Final Judgement in this case, finding in favor of the United States. Either side can now appeal his ruling.
Once again, we implore the leadership of the DMH and the Board of Mental Health to do the right thing for people with mental illness and to prevail upon the Attorney General’s office to NOT waste even more resources by appealing this case. We urge both the DMH and the Attorney General’s office to cease any plans for appeal and to work with Dr. Hogan to implement with speed and fidelity the court’s remedial order.
Recent news articles with additional information on the hearing:
FINAL DECISION IN MENTAL HEALTH CASE LOOMS AFTER HEARING
JUDGE REEVES SAID FINAL RULING COMING SOON IN STATE’S MENTAL HEALTH LAWSUIT
If you would like to join us in urging the State to not appeal or if you have other feedback for the State or the United States, here is their contact information:
MISSISSIPPI ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE
PHELPS DUNBAR, LLP – Jackson
Mississippi Department of Mental Health
Civil Rights Division, US Department of Justice