Jenny’s Guardianship Battle to Commence

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Thursday, Jenny Hatch, a 28-year-old woman with Down syndrome will be in court for a guardianship battle.

Jenny’s mother wants to keep her in a group home, but Jenny has repeatedly said she wants to live with her friends, Kelly Morris and Jim Talbert, who say they will gladly take her in.

The implications of Jenny’s case are gaining statewide attention. The State of Virginia was recently sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for putting too many people like Jenny into group homes, instead of single family homes like Morris and Talbert’s.

In Newport News Circuit Court Thursday, Judge David Pugh will consider six motions, the most critical questioning the court’s jurisdiction.

Jenny’s attorney, Robert Brown, will ask Pugh to dismiss the guardianship case because it was filed while Jenny was living in Hampton with Morris and Talbert.

“If I am right on that point, then the Newport News Court should dismiss the entire proceedings as illegal, null and void… and that mean’s Jenny’s mother Julia Ross will have to re-file the case in Hampton,” Brown said.

Jenny has been shuffled from one group home to the next during the past few months, now staying at Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Foundation. Her current court-appointed guardian, Jewish Family Service, wants out of Jenny’s case. It is possible Jenny’s mother will become a guardian.

“Because she is an adult, I don’t see why the biological mother should have preference to be guardian especially when Jenny and her mother do not get along at all,’ Brown said.

The following are the motions that will be discussed Thursday:

  1. Does the Newport News Court have Jurisdiction?
  2. The withdrawal of Jewish Family Service as court appoint attorney
  3. The withdrawal of Robert Brown as attorney and the re-appointing of the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy (VOPA). This is Brown’s motion because VOPA has better resources for the case and has more experience.
  4. The rescinding of a temporary guardianship order. The guardianship was ordered because of Jenny’s low test scores which were given while she was on heavy medication following a bike accident.
  5. Brown wants the court to reconsider sanctions of $7,500 ordered against him by Judge Pugh.
  6. If there is to be a guardian, should it be Jim Talbert and Kelly Morris?

Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
News Source:
Authors: Andy Fox