Rader asks to be his own lawyer

The confessed BTK killer files notice that he wants to represent himself in wrongful-death lawsuits

07/29/2005 12:00 AM

03/27/2012 1:53 PM

Confessed serial killer Dennis Rader will represent himself in a series of wrongful death lawsuits filed against him by several relatives of his 10 murder victims.

Rader filed notice of his intentions Thursday in Sedgwick County District Court using legal techniques and terminology that one lawyer described as "perfect."

The notice itself said simply, "Dennis L. Rader, defendant herein, hereby enters his appearance pro se."

"Pro se" is a legal term that means a party in a lawsuit plans to go to court without a lawyer.

Mark Hutton, who is representing two relatives of BTK victims, said the paperwork filed by Rader was surprisingly well done.

"I've got to tell you, the legal pleading he's setting forth is picture perfect," he said. "It's done properly, it's well spaced, he uses the phrase 'pro se' in italics.

"Something is going on there. Either he's a closet lawyer or a closet paralegal or somebody's helping him."

Hutton said small type at the lower left corner of the second page of the two-page filings suggests that Rader is using the same sequential filing system law firms use. He said the system allows lawyers to cross-reference their filings.

"Either there's an attorney incarcerated over there or a hot-shot paralegal," Hutton said. "Somebody's giving him some legal advice."

Hutton said he's had some experience with "jailhouse lawyers" with no legal training.

"I've seen those, and they're not really always well done," he said. "This is very well done. Somebody with a lot of talent is helping him behind the scenes. Or he's been going to law school at night."

Sutton said Rader has 20 days from the filing of each lawsuit to answer the charges against him. Had Rader taken no action, Hutton said, a default judgment eventually would have been entered in the case and Rader would have been ordered to pay all claims against him.

Rader, 60, pleaded guilty last month to 10 counts of first-degree murder and will be sentenced in August.

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