Lawyer's License Revoked After Posting Tips On How To Get Away With Murder
By Jason Hall
January 25, 2021
A Nashville lawyer is probably wishing he didn't overshare on social media.
Sitton reportedly responded to a post shared by a woman on Facebook in 2017 in which she sought advice on how to handle possible abuse or harassment by an ex-partner. In his response, Sitton encourages the woman to "lure" the man into her home and shoot him, but claim that the man broke into the home with the intention to harm her.
"Even with the new stand your ground law, the castle doctrine is a far safer basis for use of deadly force," Sitton wrote, according to an opinion filed by the Tennessee Supreme Court obtained by the Tennessean.
Sitton also advised the woman that she should delete her Facebook post if she was serious about going through with the incident, identifying himself as a lawyer in the process.
"As a lawyer, I advise you to keep mum about this if you are remotely serious," Sitton wrote, according to the opinion filed by the state's high court. "Your defense is that you are afraid for your life _ revenge or premeditation of any sort will be used against you at trial."
The woman did delete her post, but not before her ex saw the comments and handed over screenshots of the Facebook interaction to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, who contacted the Board of Professional Responsibility, the court's majority opinion shows.
A hearing panel found Sitton was unapologetic for his comments in the Facebook interaction and stood by his decision to give the woman advice. The board initially recommended Sitton's license be suspended for 60 days, but after reviewing his comments, the Tennessee Supreme Court instead determined that sanction wasn't fitting enough.
"Our rules do not permit lawyers to offer advice on how to commit crime with impunity," wrote Justice Holly Kirby, who wrote the majority opinion.
Sitton referred to the comments as being part of his "dark humor" and claimed he made them sarcastically, arguing before the hearing panel that he, a lawyer of 30 years, wasn't "stupid" enough to publicly post advice on how to get away with murder if he was actually serious.
"We agree with Mr. Sitton that it is hard to conceive of any reason why a lawyer, any lawyer, would offer instructions on how to commit murder and stage a concocted defense," the opinion says.
The court decided to suspend Sitton's license for four years, which included one year on active suspension and the remaining three on probation, the Tennessean reports.
The attorney previously had his license suspended in August 2018 for not paying professional taxes, court documents revealed. Sitton has yet to seek reinstatement, but must first undergo training on ethical social media practices in order to do so.
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