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Johnny Depp's attorneys ask judge to deny Amber Heard's request for a mistrial

Depp, Heard both ordered to pay millions
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard both ordered to pay millions in defamation verdict 04:18

Johnny Depp pushed back against Amber Heard's request that the judge who presided over their dual defamation case declare a mistrial, regardless of whether her recent allegations of juror discrepancy are accurate or not.

The actor's legal team filed new documents in Virginia court this week that formally objected to a motion submitted Friday by attorneys representing his ex-wife, which called for the trial verdict to be tossed out based on claims that one person who sat on the jury was not actually selected to participate. Heard's lawyers said public information revealed that the juror, whose name was redacted from the filing, shared the same last name and residential address as the person chosen but was born nearly three decades later. 

Acknowledging standard procedures in place in Fairfax County to ensure the individuals summoned for jury duty are the ones who show up, Heard's team argued that any alleged failure to correctly perform identity checks "undermined and compromised" her due process rights. It was unclear how Heard's attorneys discovered the alleged error and how the court could have missed it.

Depp's lawyers called Heard's claims "pure speculation" in their response, and said her team had not proven that an alleged mistake with regard to juror selection prejudiced her case. Their memo also suggested that Heard waived her right to object to the verdict because she did not raise concerns about the juror's identity in a "timely" manner.

While Ms. Heard has a right to an impartial jury, she has failed to identify any way in which the inclusion and service of Juror 15, assuming there had been a mistake in his birth year, somehow robbed her of that opportunity," Depp's lawyers said, arguing that her motion for a mistrial "[provided] no support whatsoever for her conclusory assertion that her due process was somehow compromised."

Depp Heard Lawsuit
Actor Amber Heard talks to her attorneys in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, May 19, 2022. Shaw Thew / AP

"Ms. Heard makes no showing of any prejudice and, accordingly, her speculative arguments fail," the memo continued.

Heard's latest court filings came shortly after her team asked Judge Penney Azcarate to throw out the trial verdict on grounds that Depp's monetary award was "excessive" and "indefensible." 

Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages — although Virginia law capped the total sum at $10.35 million due to limits on punitive awards — in a highly publicized defamation suit targeting Heard in the spring. The case came several years after Depp filed a similar suit in the U.K. and lost.

In the U.S. trial, the jury found her guilty of making false and defamatory statements that harmed Depp's reputation in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, where she identified herself as "a public figure representing domestic abuse" and referenced backlash she faced after "[speaking up] against sexual violence" following their divorce. 

Competing defamation claims filed by Heard against Depp were tried contemporaneously during the trial, but the jury largely ruled in her ex-husband's favor and recognized only one defamation charge involving his attorney. She was awarded $2 million. Heard's lawyer said last month that she plans to appeal.

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