Kansas lawmaker’s law license suspended over conflicts of interest in murder case

Kansas lawmaker’s law license suspended over conflicts of interest in murder case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican Kansas lawmaker who already dropped his re-election campaign last month after he was arrested in a traffic stop has now been barred from practicing law for at least a year for mishandling conflicts of interest in a murder case.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that state Rep. Carl Maughan of Colwich violated professional standards while representing 57-year-old Bret Blevins in a 2016 crash that killed two men, according to the Kansas City Star.

Maughan did not respond immediately to an email from The Associated Press on Sunday nor did he answer a phone call from the newspaper Friday. He had previously defended the way he handled the Blevins case although Blevins is now suing Maughan over it.

The conflicts of interest in the case came up because Maughan had previously represented Blevins’ girlfriend, Tammy Akers, in DUI cases and he accepted $30,000 from Akers and her husband to defend Blevins.

Akers and Blevins were the only occupants of the vehicle that struck and killed the two men in a van. Akers served as a key witness at the trial where Maughan blamed Akers for the crash and suggested she was the driver.

The Supreme Court ruled that conflict-of-interest waivers Maughan had Blevins and Akers sign didn’t adequately address the situation or fully inform them of the consequences.

Ultimately, Blevins was sentenced to more than 60 years in prison in 2017 after he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder. But the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled four years later that he deserved a new trial because of Maughan’s conflicts of interest. He then pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.

Maughan announced last month that he would drop out of the race for his House seat, but his name will still be on the primary ballot alongside three other Republicans because he missed the deadline to withdraw it.

He is facing two misdemeanors and two traffic violations after a traffic stop in Topeka in March. He was charged with possession of a firearm while under the influence, DUI, failure to signal a lane change and failure to maintain safe passage from a single lane. His attorney in the Topeka case didn’t immediately respond to an email Sunday.

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