Amber Heard’s legal team has requested that the verdict from her defamation case against Johnny Depp be overturned, or both sides return to court for a new trial.
In a 43-page memorandum filed on Friday, the Aquaman star’s attorneys have argued that there were a number of issues with the June 1 ruling, including excessive damages awarded to Depp and poor legal reasoning.
One of the more unusual factors raised in the Virginia court filing by Heard’s lead attorney Elaine Bredehoft is an allegation that one juror is actually 25 years younger than he had initially claimed to be.
Singling the juror out by their number, the filing stated that: “Juror 15 had a birth year of 1945. Juror 15, however, was clearly born later than 1945. Publicly available information demonstrates that he appears to have been born in 1970.”
“This discrepancy raises the questions whether Juror 15 actually received a summons for jury duty and was properly vetted by the Court to serve on the jury,” the filing continued.
Per the motion, the court clerk’s office is obligated to verify the identity of jurors, though in this case, “it appears his identity could not have been verified.”
The memo went on: “To the extent that the individual who served as Juror 15 was not, in fact, the same individual on the venire [an entire panel from which a jury is drawn], or that the Court Clerk’s office did not verify his identity, Ms. Heard’s due process was compromised.
“The Virginia Code does not contemplate jury service by someone not on the venire, for good reason… In any case, but especially a high-profile case such as this one, it is critical to ensure no person who is not on the venire is able to serve on the jury, whether by inadvertence or intention.
“Here, the facts show Juror 15 was decades younger than the individual on the jury panel list, raising questions as to whether they were the same or different people.
“Ms. Heard therefore requests that the Court investigate whether Juror 15 was properly part of the venire and whether, prior to jury service, Juror 15 verified his information in the manner prescribed by [Virginia Code].
“Ms. Heard further requests this Court to take appropriate action based upon the results of the investigation, including if appropriate, ordering a new trial.”
In April, Heard embarked on a six-week court battle with Depp, who had filed a $50 million lawsuit against her over a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post , in which she said she was a domestic abuse survivor.
During proceedings, Heard and Depp hurled a series of accusations at one another, including allegations of domestic violence —claims that each star vehemently denied during their respective testimonies.
On June 1, the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, after finding Heard’s claim to be false and defamatory. The judge adjusted the punitive damages to $350,000, as Virginia law limits the value of punitive damages available.
Heard, who had countersued for $100 million, was awarded $2 million after it was found that Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman , had made defamatory comments about her.
The July 1 filing on Heard’s behalf also questioned Depp’s claims against his ex-wife “proceeded solely on a defamation by implication theory, abandoning any claims that Ms. Heard’s statements were actually false.”
Bredehoft said that Depp’s legal team said that it would center on the time period after Heard’s 2018 op-ed for the Post was published, though, in fact, it widened that window to include statements and events from 2016.
The filing concluded that Heard “respectfully requests this Court to set aside the jury verdict in favor of Mr. Depp and against Ms. Heard in its entirety, dismiss the Complaint, or in the alternative, order a new trial.
“Ms. Heard further requests this Court to investigate potential improper juror service and take appropriate action warranted by the results of the investigation.”
Reacting to the filing, Ben Chew, who heads up Depp’s legal team, told Courthouse News Service in an email that Heard’s motion was “what we expected, just longer, no more substantive.”
Depp lost his 2020 libel case against British tabloid The Sun , which had labeled the actor a “wife beater,” in reference to the domestic abuse allegations Heard had made against him during their divorce proceedings in 2016.
Although Depp repeatedly denied ever having been violent to Heard during the three-week trial in London, the overseeing judge found that the newspaper’s claims were “substantially true.”
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