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A Tennessee lawyer has temporarily lost his license after allegedly giving advice on how to get away with murder to an online friend through social media.
After a woman posted online in 2017 that she wondered about the legality of carrying a gun in her car following a breakup with her child’s father, her Facebook friend Winston Bradshaw Sitton, who's an attorney, chimed in with advice, according to court documents filed in the Supreme Court of Tennessee on Friday.
Sitton never met the woman, but the two had been Facebook friends for about a year when he commented on her post.
"If you want to kill him, then lure him into your house and claim he broke in with intent to do you bodily harm and that you feared for your life," he stated. "Even with the new stand your ground law, the castle doctrine is a far safer basis for use of deadly force."
Then, he told her that if she was "remotely serious," she should delete the thread, because it could be used as proof of premeditation if she were to go to trial.
While she deleted her thread, her ex saw it and took a screenshot of it first. He then gave those screenshots to the district attorney, who in handed them to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, according to the court documents.
Sitton has received a four-year suspension for the ill-advised counsel.
“This case is a cautionary tale on the ethical problems that can befall lawyers on social media,” the Supreme Court stated in its filing.
Sitton is the founder of Sitton & Associates, a Nashville law firm which focuses “on business development in the healthcare, financial services, and entertainment industries,” according to its Facebook page.
He posted about the filing on his page, calling it “irrational,” claiming that his comments were “taken out of context.”
“I adamantly contest the finding that my gratuitous commentary offered in 2017 to a battered woman, who was being threatened and abused and harassed by her son's father, was legal advice as to how to commit a crime or in any way violated my duties as either a citizen or as a lawyer,” he posted on Saturday.
Sitton said he was using “sarcasm in order to emphasize the peril inherent in carrying a firearm without adequate training.” He had also attempted to explain that his comments were both sarcasm and “dark humor” to the Court, but they rejected that claim.
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