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Virginia Court Case Is A Victory For The Rights Of People With Disabilities

Jenny Hatch

Jenny with her friends Jim Talbert and Kelly Morris.

A 50 year woman with Down’s Syndrome will be allowed to choose her own guardian rather than stay in a group home against her will.

Margaret Jean “Jenny” Hatch, of Hampton Roads, Virginia, had been living under the guardianship of her parents who had placed her in a series of group homes against her will, while Jenny preferred to live with friends and work in a local thrift store.

The Washington Post reported that the case was about an individual’s right to choose how to live, the rights of people with disabilities and the government’s ability to help integrate people with disabilities into the community.

Jenny and her friends were very pleased with the court’s decision, ““For anyone who has been told you can’t do something, you can’t make your own decisions, I give you Jenny Hatch — the rock that starts the avalanche”, said her attorney Jonathan Mortinis.

Circuit Judge David F. Pugh ruled that Jenny’s friends Jim Talbert and Kelly Morris, who Jenny had been staying with and run the thrift store where Jenny works, have guardianship for a year and then must help her become more independent.

“Free at last,” Hatch said as she left the courtroom, “I’m going home. I’m so happy to be going home today. I deserve to be home. I love my family, I love my friends, and I deserve to be home with them.”

Read more about this at The Washington Post and The Daily Press.

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