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Archive for Monday, September 7, 1992

JAILHOUSE LAWYER KEEPS APPEALS COURTS BUSY

September 7, 1992

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Making claims that appear delusional at worst and repetitious at best, Charles Hunter refuses to give up his quest to overturn his 1979 Douglas County District Court conviction on rape and burglary charges.

Five times during the past five years, Hunter has filed and lost appeals on the conviction, which stems from a 17-day spree of break-ins and sexual assaults in December 1978 in Lawrence.

Douglas County District Court administrators and employees wouldn't be surprised to see another appeal.

Mike Malone, Douglas County administrative district judge, said Hunter's zeal has made him the "undisputed king of 60-1507 actions." A 60-1507 case is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which Hunter claims he is entitled to because key witnesses have not been allowed to testify in his defense.

SIGNING some of his cases as "The Rev. Lord Sir Charles Hunter," Hunter has claimed that various people and organizations including Gene Simmons, a member of the rock group KISS could prove his innocence.

Contacted by the Journal-World, some witnesses listed in Hunter's motions said they had no information that would vindicate Hunter. Ed Piette, general manager of WDAF-TV in Kansas City, said he'd never heard of Hunter. A Lawrence woman listed by Hunter as an "eyewitness" said she befriended Hunter when he was a boy and she was the manager of a downtown theater he often visited. The woman said she knew nothing about his crimes.

But still, the appeals keep coming from Hunter, who was confined for three years in Larned State Security hospital after his conviction.

There's little barring him from appealing. His appeals must be heard by a judge, Malone said, even if they're redundant or fanciful. And because Hunter is indigent, he gets out of paying the standard $61.50 filing fee.

MALONE SAID the appeals are a nuisance to court employees, eating time that could be better spent on other things. However, he said, other courts face the same annoyance.

"There are people like this in several districts," Malone said. "It's not that unusual to find someone who files these actions all the time."

Compounding the inconvenience is the fact that all four Douglas County district judges have disqualified themselves for various reasons.

Malone, for instance, was the district attorney who put Hunter behind bars.

HERE IS a rundown of Hunter's 60-1507 filings:

Hunter filed his first request for a writ of habeas corpus in 1987. Judge E. Newton Vickers, Shawnee County, denied the motion on July 8 of that year, saying Hunter presented insufficient grounds.

On April 7, 1988, Hunter filed his second 60-1057 action. Judge William Stevenson, Horton, decided there were sufficient grounds to appoint an attorney for Hunter. Issues about sentencing became the focal point of the appeal. Douglas County Judge James Paddock imposed a retroactive sentence in 1982 after originally sending Hunter to Larned State Hospital. On July 7, 1989, Stevenson ruled Paddock's sentence should be the sentence of record. The appellate court upheld that ruling on July 27, 1990.

On Jan. 8, 1991, Hunter again filed for a writ of habeas corpus. On March 1, 1991, Judge Gary Nafziger, Jefferson County, denied the request, saying Hunter had made no new claims.

On July 11, 1991, Hunter made the same request. Eighteen days later, Judge Donald White, Franklin County, denied the request, saying Hunter had presented "no new grounds not decided by appeals court."

On June 16, Hunter filed his most recent 60-1507. On Aug. 4, White again denied the claim, saying Hunter "has not brought new matters before . . . the court."

Hunter is serving his term in a maximum security cell at the Lansing Correctional Facility. He will be eligible for parole on Jan. 22, 1996.

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