NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - Jenny Hatch, a high-functioning 28-year-old woman with Down Syndrome could lose her court-appointed attorney which could end in her picking where she wants to live.
WAVY.com spoke with Jenny last month. She was passionate about living with Jim Talbert and Kelly Morris after she had a falling out with her mother, Julia Ross and stepfather, Richard Ross.
The two took Jenny to court to determine who her guardian would be and Jenny was placed in the hands of Jewish Family Service.
The court proceedings are ultimately about where Jenny lives, said Jenny's attorney Robert Brown.
"If the Ross [family] wanted to let Jenny live with Jim and Kelly, then we would not be here in court today," Brown said. "That is what this is all about."
The case could be a big turning point on a state level. The Commonwealth of Virginia has been sued by the Department of Justice for not properly integrating adults with mental challenges in communities, but rather placing them in group homes.
"We are the temporary guardian and service the court and that's all I can say," Greg Pomije, lawyer for Jewish Family Service said outside court Wednesday.
That day in court, Pomije filed a motion for Jewish Family Service to withdraw from Jenny's case. He didn't offer that when WAVY.com questioned him and had no comment during a phone call later that day.
Jenny worked in Jim and Kelly's thrift store and was fully integrated in the community. Jim and Kelly took her in after her mother abandoned her when she was struck by a car while riding her bike.
WAVY.com tracked down Jenny's mother Wednesday, who refused comment, but added Jenny is "a gem."
Brown has also asked to be removed from the case. He hopes to be replaced with an attorney from the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy of Adults. VOPA could offer an attorney with an expert background in this kind of case.
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