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Lawyer is accused of threatening governor in social media posts

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A Kentucky lawyer was arrested Tuesday on a charge of terroristic threatening for comments that he made about the Democratic Kentucky governor on Facebook.

The charge against Louisville lawyer James Gregory Troutman, 53, is a misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to a year in jail, report the Lexington Herald-Leader, WDRB, the Louisville Courier Journal and WAVE 3 News.

Terroristic threatening requires a threat to “commit any crime likely to result in death or serious physical injury to another person.”

In one of the posts, Troutman said someone should ask Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in a press conference about “his thoughts on William Goebel.” Goebel, who was Kentucky’s 34th governor, was shot in January 1900, the day before he was sworn in to office. He died four days later.

In another post, Troutman referenced a rally to protest business closings. A Facebook commenter asked whether Beshear would be there “shooting plates,” a reference to the recording of license plates of worshipers who defied an order barring mass gatherings.

“With any luck the gov will be the one at whom the shooting will be directed,” Troutman allegedly replied on Facebook.

Troutman’s lawyer, Steve Romines, told WAVE 3 News that his client’s comments were “dumb” and “unhelpful,” but they weren’t criminal.

Romines told the Louisville Courier Journal that Troutman never said he would kill Beshear, and the posts don’t meet the definition of terroristic threatening.

“Just because times are scary we cannot overreact. And trying to restrict somebody’s free speech rights … is an overreaction when what they say doesn’t meet the elements of a crime,” Romines said.

Troutman has also run into trouble with lawyer ethics regulators. In 2007, he sought his own suspension for two years for firing an arrow from a crossbow that pierced his neighbor’s garage door and lodged into a refrigerator, according to a Kentucky Supreme Court opinion that reinstated him to law practice.

Troutman had said he was on a large amount of allergy medicine at the time. He pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment and criminal mischief, but the charges were dismissed after he successfully completed pretrial diversion.

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