Republican Lawmaker in Big Trouble Over Conflict of Interest in Murder Trial

( – Republican Kansas Representative Carl Maughan has been barred from practicing as an attorney for a year or more after the Kansas Supreme Court found he had mishandled a conflict of interests in a murder investigation.

The court’s ruling said Maughan violated the profession’s standards when he represented Bret Blevins, 57, in connection with a crash in 2016 that killed two people. The verdict follows Maughan’s decision to abandon his reelection campaign in May after he was arrested in March in a traffic stop.

The lawmaker previously stood by his conduct in the case in which he represented Blevins. The conflict of interest arose because Maughan had previously represented Tammy Akers, Blevins’ girlfriend, in DUI cases. Akers, along with her husband, paid Maughan $30,000 to defend Blevins, who is now suing Maughan over the way he handled the case.

When the vehicle hit the van with two men in it, killing them, Blevins and Akers were the only occupants. Akers testified as a witness at the trial, where Maughan held her responsible for the crash and claimed she was driving. The Supreme Court concluded that Maughan did not fully inform Akers and Blevins of the full consequences of the conflict-of-interest waivers he had them sign, which, according to the court, did not sufficiently remedy the problem.

Blevins received a jail sentence of more than 60 years in 2017 when a jury convicted him of two counts of second-degree murder. The Kansas Court of Appeals ruled in 2021, however, that Blevins should receive a new trial because of Maughan’s conflict of interest. After Blevins pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, the court sentenced him to over 13 years.

Blevins and Akers were both using methamphetamine and alcohol at the time of the crash, and each claimed the other was in the driver’s seat. Blevins argued that Maughan’s conflict of interest meant he did not provide effective assistance of counsel. According to the 2021 State v. Blevins court documents, the lawmaker had failed to hire an accident reconstructionist, a DNA expert or a medical expert and had not investigated Aker’s role in the crash while representing her in another matter, despite Blevins’ request that he do so.

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