U.S. v. Forde, 2011 WL 63831 (4th Cir. January 10, 2011)
Defendant was convicted of bankruptcy fraud and some other similar crimes. One of his arguments on appeal was that the trial court judge erred by not holding a hearing to investigate alleged juror impropriety. The jury foreperson’s husband’s friend had posted the following tweet during the trial:
assume: suppose to be the case, without proof; presume: suppose that something is the case on the basis of probability.
The appellate court rejected the defendant’s argument. It held that the duty to investigate juror impropriety arises only when the party alleging misconduct makes and adequate showing of extrinsic influence to overcome the presumption of jury impartiality. “In other words, there must be something more than mere speculation.”
The court found that “the string of possibilities” about the tweet — i.e., that the foreperson possibly talked to her husband, who possibly talked to his friend, who possibly took to Twitter in response to what the husband possibly told him — was nothing but speculation and thus fell far short of establishing reasonable grounds for investigation.