The state of Mississippi is asking a federal judge to prevent the Department of Justice from conducting further discovery in the case involving the state's Department of Mental Health.
The brief was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and asks U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves that the federal motion for limited discovery be denied.
Discovery is defined as the exchange of legal information and known facts in the case, which can include expert testimony and evidence. The U.S. Department of Justice wants a further period of discovery.
During a February 22 video conference, a witness for the state of Mississippi was asked about progress made by the state toward meeting the requirements laid out by Reeves in his 2019 decision.
The state argues that the witness, public mental health expert Wendy Bailey, advised the court about the state's progress toward settling the lawsuit and that further examination of the facts are not necessary.
The lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, which was filed in 2016, alleges that Mississippi depends too much on segregated state hospital settings and not enough community-based alternatives, which can provide an alternative to hospitalization for many with serious mental illnesses.
This is in violation of 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 rather than be institutionalized.
The Department of Justice began an investigation in 2011 and issued a findings letter to then-Gov. Haley Barbour. The state and the DOJ went into a round of negotiations to come up with a solution acceptable to both sides, but the DOJ later filed a lawsuit against the state on August 11, 2016 filed in U.S. District Court.
The federal government won the first round on September 3, 2019 after a four-week bench trial conducted by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. He ruled in favor of the federal government and designated a special master, Dr. Michael Hogan, to help the court develop a remedial plan to help the state meet federal requirements, which was submitted late last month.