Prosecutors have dismissed charges against a Sedgwick County detention deputy accused of fondling two male inmates. The district attorney and the sheriff said it’s possible that charges could be re-filed.

In November 2012, prosecutors charged James Conklin, 54, with two counts of unlawful sexual relations, both felonies. The charges accused him of “lewd fondling” of two inmates in September and October of 2012. In the past, authorities said that the charges involved incidents at the work release center; according to the charges, the alleged victims were jail inmates.

One of the charges was dismissed in July and the other on Sept. 10, court records show.

In a statement Wednesday, Conklin’s defense attorney, Sal Intagliata said: “James Conklin honorably served his department and his community for almost 20 years as a deputy jailer. He and his family appreciate the willingness of the District Attorney’s Office to listen and review his case closely and on its own. We are most thankful for that office’s decision to dismiss the case. It was the right decision.”

Later, Intagliata added: “We continue to maintain that James Conklin did not commit these offenses.”

In a statement, District Attorney Marc Bennett said that the case against Conklin “was dismissed because a key witness is in custody in another jurisdiction and is unavailable to testify. The case was dismissed without prejudice which means it can be re-filed at a later time.”

Sheriff Jeff Easter said an alleged victim in the case is in a federal penitentiary and can’t get to Wichita to testify. When that person is available to testify, it’s possible the charges could be refiled, Easter said.

Conklin remains on unpaid suspension, and he has filed for retirement, Easter said.

“We are conducting an internal investigation” into the circumstances that led to the charges, Easter said.

That internal investigation had to wait until the criminal case was completed, he said.

Conklin was the second deputy within a year to be charged with sex crimes against inmates. Former Sedgwick County detention Deputy David Kendall is still facing multiple charges, ranging from aggravated sodomy to misdemeanor sexual battery.

Read full story at

The Wichita Eagle – By Tim Potter and Stan Finger

For the second time, Best Lawyers has named Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, a Wichita Lawyer of the Year. In 2012, Monnat earned the distinction specifically for his white-collar criminal defense work. This year, Monnat has been recognized for his success in other criminal cases as the 2014 Wichita Criminal Defense: Non-White-Collar Lawyer of the Year. 

Monnat has been honored by The Best Lawyers in America® for 26 consecutive years.  For this 2014 edition, Monnat is listed in the fields of criminal defense; white-collar criminal defense; and appellate defense. Selection is based on a confidential, nationwide peer survey that rates attorneys on professional competency, legal scholarship, pro bono service, and achievement.

“For more than a quarter of a century, I’ve been honored to be recognized among this revered group of lawyers,” Monnat said. “Every day, they make our American justice system stronger by upholding the principles of the Constitution and protecting liberty for all of us,” Monnat said.

Monnat has practiced in Wichita for more than 36 years. A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law and is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

A frequent national lecturer and editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is the author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 4th edition. Appointed by then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Monnat served on the Kansas Sentencing Commission from 2007 – 2012.

Chosen in 2002 as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Monnat currently sits on the Kansas Association of Justice’ Board of Editors and is the Criminal Law Chair. He has also been designated a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Litigation Counsel of America and the Kansas Bar Foundation.

Monnat served as a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Board of Directors from 1996 – 2004, and is a two-term past president of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

DERBY, Kansas — Derby High School already has random drug testing. Add the AlcoBlow to the list.

“They blow onto the end of the wand and it has three indicators to see if they’ve been drinking,” says Derby High Principal Tim Hamblin. “We are doing this. It’s already been deployed at the first football game. We have two.”

“Teenage drinking happens. I’m not about to believe that does not go on at Derby High School or any other school in the USA. But with drinking, sometimes, bad things can happen. The consequences can be life-altering or the tragic loss of life.”

Derby says it will only use the “AlcoBlow” system on a student, if someone comes forward and states a student may be drinking or intoxicated.

“We won’t be roaming the stands at games,” says Hamblin.

The idea is met with mixed reviews from students, who wonder if the idea is a good one.

“It’s kind of yes and no,” says Derby Junior Courtney Anderson. “If you’re not doing it (drinking) then you shouldn’t worry at all. ”

“It’s known. Teenagers do drink,” says student Jackson Howard. “In some circumstances I think it would be necessary if you know they are intoxicated at a sporting event like that.”

Mixed reviews. But, is it legal?

Law analysts say rights of students have been through the courts when it comes to students and drug and alcohol testing.

“Maybe the bigger question here is how will the school do this?” asks legal analyst and Wichita attorney Dan Monnat. “Might we find that a disproportionate number of students with face metal and tattoos are being tested? Or, might we find that a disproportionate number of students who wear hoodies are being tested? The school has to be very careful to administer such constitutionally permissible procedures as these in a non-discriminatory manner.”

Some parents are onboard, saying it’s a good idea.

“I think it’s a good thing,” says parent Sean Larson. “It will keep our kids responsible and let them know there is some consequences for that.”

School leaders say they will be judicial in their use of the AlcoBlow device.

“If there is a positive test, we will call the police,” says Hamblin. “Teen drinking is just not legal. Also, we will not test a suspected student in public. They will be pulled aside and two administrators will view the procedure.”

If a students tests positive, and the subsequent police breathalyzer test confirms the AlcoBlow test, there could be a student suspension.

The system is already in use, and will be available for all extra-curricular activities. There are no plans to have parents tested.

See video at KSN

KSN TV – By Laura McMillan