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Kan. Supreme Court. suspends law licenses of State Rep. Maughan and former Rep. Samsel

    The Kansas Supreme Court issued a one-year suspension of Rep.'s law license.  Carl Maughan, R-Colwich, for violating the Attorneys' Code of Professional Conduct for the way he represented in Sedgwick County District Court the driver of a vehicle that killed two disabled men in a traffic accident in 2016. He was involved in a conflict of interest by simultaneously representing the defendant in the murder case, Bret Blevins, and the only other person in the vehicle, Tammy Akers, who Blevins claimed was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.  (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
The Kansas Supreme Court issued a one-year suspension of Rep.’s law license. Carl Maughan, R-Colwich, for violating the Attorneys’ Code of Professional Conduct for the way he represented in Sedgwick County District Court the driver of a vehicle that killed two disabled men in a traffic accident in 2016. He was involved in a conflict of interest by simultaneously representing the defendant in the murder case, Bret Blevins, and the only other person in the vehicle, Tammy Akers, who Blevins claimed was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Maughan’s disciplinary sentence is twelve months, while Samsel’s is two years

BY: TIM CARPENTER, Kansas Reflector

TOPEKA – The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday suspended the law licenses of a current and former member of the Kansas House based on evidence that they violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys.

The state’s highest court has ordered the license of Rep. Carl Maughan, R-Colwich, suspended for one year after he was involved in a conflict of interest while representing in Sedgwick County the drunken driver of a vehicle that killed two disabled people in 2016 men died. accident in Wichita.

A state disciplinary panel responsible for overseeing licensed attorneys in Kansas originally recommended a six-month suspension of Maughan’s license, which would have been commuted to probation had he complied with a rehabilitation program.

Alice Walker, the state’s deputy disciplinary administrator, recommended that the Supreme Court suspend Maughan’s license for 12 months. During Supreme Court oral arguments in May, Walker said the harsher sentence was justified because Maughan had refused to cooperate with the Office of Disciplinary Administration since December. He was also unable to attend the High Court hearing into his disciplinary case in May due to a car breakdown claim.

“At this time,” Walker said, “I do not believe Mr. Maughan is capable of adhering to a probation plan.”

Maughan, who has been a licensed attorney in Kansas since 1997, admits he engaged in conflicts of interest that undermined the representation of his client, Bret Blevins, who was charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of Dusty Atterbery and Dirk MacMillan. Evidence presented at trial showed that Blevins was drunk and had consumed methamphetamine before running a stop sign in a residential area and widening a Cadillac Escalade into a van carrying the deceased men.

Blevins’ girlfriend Tammy Akers was the only other person in the vehicle. Akers was a longtime client of Maughan’s, and she offered to help pay Maughan $30,000 to defend Blevins. During legal proceedings involving Blevins, Maughan claimed he obtained conflict of interest waivers from Blevins and Akers. Part of Maughan’s strategy in defending Blevins was to argue that Akers was driving the Cadillac at the time of the accident. Akers pointed a finger at Blevins.

Maughan represented Akers in a separate legal matter while serving as counsel for Blevins in the fatal traffic accident case, court records show.

Following a trial in Sedgwick County District Court, Blevins was found guilty of 14 criminal counts and sentenced to more than 725 months in prison. At the direction of the Kansas Court of Appeals, a hearing was held in Sedgwick County District Court to determine whether Maughan had a conflict of interest that undermined his ability to properly represent Blevins.

A Sedgwick County judge said there was no such conflict. At the time, Maughan’s wife was a sitting judge on the Sedgwick County District Court.

In 2021, the Kansas Court of Appeals issued a decision reversing the district court ruling and affirming Blevins’ claim of inadequate counsel by Maughan. The case was returned for a new trial in Wichita. In March, Blevins was sentenced to 205 months in prison.

The Court of Appeal had this to say about Maughan’s simultaneous representation of Akers and Blevins: “It is not difficult to imagine the significant risk of conflicting pressure on a lawyer when he represents both a long-time client who is not only paying his bill , but is also involved in the crime his new client is accused of, along with a new client whose only defense is to accuse the lawyer’s former client.

Misconduct ‘clearly established’

At various points in the legal drama, Maughan claimed he received verbal or written waivers from Blevins and Akers. Maughan said these waivers allowed him to “diligently and zealously” represent Blevins in the murder case. However, the state appeals court concluded that Blevins “did not waive his right to a conflict-free attorney.”

Maughan admitted during the state’s disciplinary investigation that he had not received waivers from Blevins or Akers regarding his conflicts of interest.

“Even if that were not the case,” the Supreme Court decision said, “the evidence before the hearing clearly corroborated the misconduct charged.”

The judges found that Maughan was guilty of conflict of interest, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and other breaches of professional conduct.

To return to legal practice in Kansas, the Supreme Court decided, Maughan must undergo a reinstatement hearing before the court would consider reinstating his license.

Maughan is up for re-election to the Kansas House despite claiming his campaign was suspended two months ago.

In March, he was arrested in Shawnee County on suspicion of driving under the influence. The DUI charging affidavit stated that Maughan had a loaded semi-automatic handgun, an empty bottle of Fireball whiskey and an open case of beer in the vehicle when he was stopped by an officer with the Topeka Police Department.

In response to his arrest in the DUI case, Maughan said his actions set a bad example for his family, voters in the 90th District and citizens of Kansas.

“I made a serious error of judgment, I apologize and accept responsibility for my actions,” he said.

Former Rep. Mark Samsel, R-Wellsville, had his law license suspended for two years by the Kansas Supreme Court over an incident in which he was arrested in 2021 for battery of Wellsville High School students.  The Supreme Court suspended the sanction and ordered supervision of Samsel's legal work as he dealt with a diagnosed mental illness.  Samsel's booking photo from Franklin County
Former Rep. Mark Samsel, R-Wellsville, had his law license suspended for two years by the Kansas Supreme Court over an incident in which he was arrested in 2021 for battery of Wellsville High School students. The Supreme Court suspended the sanction and ordered supervision of Samsel’s legal work as he dealt with a diagnosed mental illness. Samsel’s booking photo from Franklin County

Samsel’s disorderly behavior

Former Rep. Mark Samsel, a Wellsville Republican elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2020, had his law license suspended for two years by the Supreme Court. That suspension was stayed pending his completion of a two-year probationary period, which would include treatment for a mental disorder, the order said.

In April 2021, Samsel was working as a substitute teacher at Wellsville High School when he kicked and pushed a student and grabbed another student by the shoulders. He was arrested on three charges of assault, but entered a guilty plea in September 2021 to three charges of disorderly conduct. He was ordered to serve a year of probation, seek mental health treatment and avoid interacting with social media.

The Wellsville classroom episode included comments from Samsel about suicide, sex, masturbation, God, the Bible, foster care and homosexuality. Students captured Samsel’s comments on video. The video included the moment when Samsel allowed students to kick one of their classmates in the groin. He warned a male student that he was in danger of receiving “the wrath of God.”

“Do you believe me when I tell you that God has spoken to me?” Samsel said on video. “Who likes making babies? That feels good, doesn’t it? Reproduce. Have you not masturbated? Don’t answer that question. God already knows.”

Samsel lost his re-election campaign to Carrie Barth, a Baldwin City Republican who currently serves the Kansas House district. Samsel left his office two years ago.

The Supreme Court noted the evidence that Samsel attempted to retain his substitute teaching credential by sending a letter on official Kansas House letterhead to the Kansas State Department of Education. In that letter, Samsel expressed his desire to resolve his teaching license issue so that the Department of Education could continue to work effectively with the Legislature. Ultimately, he voluntarily surrendered his teaching certificate.

He also signed an agreement with the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator in which he admitted that his conduct violated the rules of professional conduct for a lawyer and that his misconduct was the result of an untreated mental disorder. He agreed that his criminal actions adversely affected his fitness to practice law and that he had inappropriately suggested that he could dictate legislative policy on public education.

Samsel and the Disciplinary Administration Office had agreed to a one-year suspension of his law license, but the Supreme Court ruled that a two-year suspension was appropriate. The judges suspended the sanction pending Samsel’s two-year probation period, which included supervision and supervision of his practice as a lawyer.