Tweet by friend of husband of jury foreperson did not taint jury trial

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.


  1. What was the alleged relationship between the subject of the tweet and the issues decided by the jury?

  2. One more case of the system assuming jurors live in a bubble when that is clearly not the case. The system needs to adjust to take into account the ready availability of information. And if jurors don't know definitions, why can't they ask for them – especially during trial?

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