Kansas Supreme Court suspends law license of a lawmaker, probation for former legislator (2024)

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday suspended the law license of a current lawmaker and placed a former lawmaker on probation.

The high court immediately suspended Rep. Carl Maughan, R-Colwich, as part of an attorney discipline case stemming from a DUI case where he represented a client despite a conflict of interest. The matter is separate from his ongoing criminal charges for alleged drunk driving in Topeka.

Maughan's one-year suspension starts immediately, and before his law license can be reinstated, Maughan will have to undergo a reinstatement hearing.

The court also suspended former Rep. Mark Samsel, R-Wellsville. But his two-year suspension was stayed, on the condition that he successfully complete two years of probation. If he does, no reinstatement hearing will be required.

Kansas Supreme Court suspends law license of a lawmaker, probation for former legislator (1)

Rep. Carl Maughan had conflict of interest in legal case

The court said Maughan's disciplinary action stemmed from a conflict of interest in his representation of a client in a murder and DUI case.

Maughan represented Bret Blevins in Sedgwick County District Court after a 2016 crash that killed two people and injured others.

But Maughan was also an attorney for Blevins' girlfriend, who was the other occupant of the vehicle that sped through a residential neighborhood and ran a stop sign, causing the deadly crash. Blevins and the girlfriend had drunk alcohol and used methamphetamine before the crash, and both accused each other of being the driver.

It was the girlfriend and her husband who hired Maughan to represent Blevins. The girlfriend then testified against him at trial.

The jury convicted Blevins on all charges, including two counts of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to nearly 61 years in prison. The Kansas Court of Appeals overturned his convictions in 2021, finding that because Blevins did not receive effective assistance of counsel.

Blevins has since entered a deal where he pled guilty while maintaining his innocence, and he has been sentenced to about 17 years in prison. He has alsofiled a legal malpractice lawsuitagainst Maughan.

The Supreme Court decision said that Maughan "stipulated to the alleged violations, but even if he had not, the evidence before the hearing panel clearly established the charged misconduct violated" multiple rules of professional conduct.

During the disciplinary case, Maughan failed to comply with court rules on probation, prompting the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator to change its recommendation from probation to a six-month suspension. When Maughan did not show up for the Supreme Court hearing in May and didn't file a required affidavit in advance of it, the office changed the recommendation to a yearlong suspension.

Kansas Supreme Court suspends law license of a lawmaker, probation for former legislator (2)

Former Rep. Mark Samsel hit student while substitute teaching

The court said that Samsel's disciplinary case stemmed from an April 2021 incident where, "while substitute teaching, Samsel kicked and shoved one high school student and grabbed another high school student by the shoulders."

Videos of the incident in the classroom showed him ranting aboutsuicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible, and a student told a detective that Samsel kicked him in the testicl*s.

Samsel was charged in Franklin County with three counts of battery, which were pled down to disorderly conduct. He also voluntarily surrendered his substitute teaching license.

He entered an agreement with the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator where he stipulated to professional conduct violations while also saying that an untreated mental health disorder caused the misconduct. They had recommended a one-year suspension.

"After full consideration, we hold that a two-year suspension is the appropriate discipline under the circ*mstances," the Supreme Court said. "We acknowledge respondent's mental health was a contributing factor to his misconduct, and he has made significant progress in this respect upon diagnosis and adherence to a successful treatment protocol. But given the nature of the underlying conduct, we believe a suspension of more than one year is warranted."

However, that suspension is stayed if Samsel can successfully complete two years of probation where he will be subject to supervision.

When Samsel addressed the Supreme Court during his May hearing, he apologized for his "terrible" conduct and said it was "a manic episode from a bipolar disorder I didn't know I had."

He said that at the time of the incident and in the following months: "I thought God was calling me to still make this an event to bring attention to mental health. I obviously was wrong in hindsight, but at the time, I thought I was correct."

Since then, he said, doctors have found a medicine that works and he has not experienced symptoms. He now practices law part-time on business contracts and similar work, and, "I actually honestly enjoy the practice of law again."

Jason Alatidd is a Statehouse reporter for The Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached by email at jalatidd@gannett.com. Follow him on X@Jason_Alatidd.

Kansas Supreme Court suspends law license of a lawmaker, probation for former legislator (2024)
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