Jenny Hatch celebrating her victory - Jenny Hatch Justice Project

Jenny Hatch Justice Project

Margaret “Jenny” Hatch is a 29 year old woman with Down syndrome who the Washington Post describes as a “hero to the disabled.” She never planned to be. Instead, Jenny wanted to live her life the way she always had – deciding where to live, what to do, work and see like everyone else does.  That all changed in August of 2012, when Jenny was served with a Petition attempting to put her in a guardianship, one where her guardians would have the power to make all her decisions for her – even whether to receive or withhold healthcare.  Almost immediately, Jenny was placed in a temporary guardianship and forced to live in a group home, where she was cut off from her friends, removed from her job and taken from the life she made for herself in her community. Through it all, Jenny never lost hope, never stopped insisting that she did not need a guardian, she just needed a little help.  Like everyone else. 

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Jenny Hatch hugging a friend

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Jenny Hatch celebrating her victory - Jenny Hatch Justice Project

Jenny Hatch Justice Project

Opening the way for people with disabilities to reclaim their freedom

After a year of litigation and six days of trial, Jenny Hatch won the right to make decisions for herself, using supported decision-making: to direct her life to the maximum of her abilities and choose where to live, what to do and who to see.

The case began in August of 2012, with the filing of a Petition seeking to place Jenny in a full guardianship, including the authority to decide where she would live and whether to give or withhold medical treatment. Shortly thereafter, the Court held a hearing and put Jenny in a temporary guardianship, taking away her right to make any decisions about her life. As a result, Jenny was placed in a group home – where they took away her cell phone and laptop and wouldn’t let her see her friends.

We entered Jenny’s case in February of 2013, after the Court placed Jenny in the temporary guardianship. Initially, we were even denied the ability to see Jenny unless we promised not to discuss the case with her. After several Motions and delays to request and review records, the trial was held during 3 days in May and an additional 3 days in July and August. The Court made its decision on August 2, 2013.