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A quick-moving system will move through tonight and early Thanksgiving morning producing rain and snow showers. Tonight light rain will push through Middle TN. Snow showers will be likely along and north of I-40, with some accumulation in S. KY and the Cumberland Plateau. 1-2 is possible along the Plateau by early Thurs. morning. Up to .5 inch is possible in S. KY and nearby TN counties. Those along the I-40 corridor will see flurries with little to no accumulation. Roads will become slick along the Plateau overnight and early Thurs. morning.

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ABA: Lawyers Can Scour Jurors' Social Media Sites

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Lawyers have been given the green light to scan the social media sites of jurors.

The American Bar Association said its ethical for lawyers to scour online for publicly available musings of citizens called for jury service and even jurors in deliberations.

But the ABA does warn lawyers against actively following or friending jurors or otherwise invading their private Internet areas.

Though judges now universally admonish jurors to refrain from discussing trials on social media, the nationwide lawyers group for the first time is addressing how deeply attorneys, their investigators and their consultants can search for information that might signal leanings of potential jurors or unearth juror misconduct during trials.

Jurors online postings have disrupted many legal proceedings over the years, causing mistrials and special hearings over the effects of Facebook musings, tweets and blog writings about their trial experiences. Lawyers and judges also have been wrangling over how far attorneys can go in assembling a jury with help from online research of jurors social media habits.

A few judges have denied lawyers permission to research social media sites as overly invasive while others have allowed it. One company has gone so far as to develop a software product that promises to create a juror profile through social media posts and monitor jurors during the trial.

The ABAs ethics committee began reviewing the issue about two years ago and concluded in April that looking at Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and other information gathered passively is ethical research.

Its like any other publicly available information, said Donald Lundberg, an Indianapolis attorney who helped draft the ABAs opinion as an ethics committee member.

Lundberg said one of the thornier issues for the committee was whether lawyers could view LinkedIn and other social media sites that notify members that they have been searched.

Ultimately, the ABA committee decided a LinkedIn search was ethically sound, which runs counter to an opinion issued by the New York City Bar Association in 2010 that said any notice sent to a potential juror about a search amounts to an unauthorized communication.

We stay away from LinkedIn and similar sites, said Leslie Ellis, a Washington, D.C., jury consultant. We dont want to do anything that would make them uncomfortable to serve.

Ellis said her firm has been asked on occasion to conduct social media searches of prospective jurors, but only when their names are available days before they arrive at the courthouse. Ellis said prospective juror names generally arent available until the morning jury selections begins and that time-constraints limit what can be found online.

Social media searches are time-consuming and expensive, Ellis said. What takes so long is confirming that you found the right person.

At least two state bar organizations have addressed online searches of potential jurors.

The Missouri Supreme Court requires lawyers to research potential jurors litigation history on a website that tracks lawsuits in the state. The Oregon State Bar published an opinion last year thats in line with the ABA guidelines, saying lawyers can access publicly available social media information but cant actively follow or friend potential jurors.

The California State Bar, the biggest state bar in the country, has not addressed the issue, spokeswoman Laura Ernde said.

Some lawyers are sold on social media searches and have been following the practice for some time.

Last year, New York defense attorney Barry Berke hired a jury consultant firm and instructed it to search social media sites of potential jurors in the insider-trading case of Michael Steinberg.

The consultant was looking for anti-Wall Street comments or other signs of possible bias. Prospective jurors thought to be biased were removed from the pool.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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