Emma France was represented by a court-appointed counsel, otherwise known as an guardian ad litem, but no testimony was offered suggesting that Emma was capable of taking care of her own affairs. Instead the judge in what appeared to be a very short probate trial signed away her free will. France challenged the charges against her daughter. She said Forste is not guilty of financial exploitation or kidnapping. She said she wanted to go to California and to get out of Jasper County after she was hospitalized and made a ward of the public administrator. She said both actions were taken against her will. An Alleged Kidnapping
Rita Hunter, Jasper County public administrator, her attorney and an area physician are named in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Emma France, stems from the actions that made France a ward of the public administrator.
Former Ward Files Suit
A class-action lawsuit was also filed asking that the Jasper County public administrator be removed as conservator of her 450 to 500 clients or be ordered to refund any fees she has charged them that the court deems excessive. The lawsuit was brought by the same attorney who won dismissal of criminal charges against France's daughter and her husband who had been charged with kidnapping the woman’s Carthage mother while she was a ward of the public administrator. Class Action Filed
Some former wards of Rita Hunter, former Jasper County’s public administrator, filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of taking money from their estates to pay attorneys for the county office. The lawsuit contends that there was no authority to take the fees because there was no written contract between the attorneys and the county office, a requirement of state law. The lawsuit names John Podleski, who served as attorney for the administrator’s office until Hunter’s term ended, and Gayle Crane, who held the post for the first two years after Hunter took office in 2004. Crane became a circuit judge. Attorney Fees Challenged
The state returned donated money amounting to more than $27,000 that had been taken out of Jasper County wards’ accounts by Rita Hunter, former public administrator. The office was working on the return of about $85,000 that was taken from wards’ accounts and sent to state health-care agencies in the last weeks of Hunter’s tenure. Hunter was also the subject of an investigation that was launched after it was learned that all the wards’ records had been taken from the public administrator’s files, and that computer files on the wards had been erased. Hunter later returned about 30 boxes of files, and additional materials were taken from her house as a result of a search warrant.
Some Money Returned - Investigation Continues
Rita Hunter was or is registered with the National Guardianship Association Inc., an organization that promotes a "standard of excellence in guardianship."
May 2009 ~ Guardianship abuse victims recognized during Elder Abuse Prevention Month