In a high-profile civil trial in June, Johnny Depp won a suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. The defamation case did draw out the 36-Year-Old counterclaim against the actor, awarding the Aquaman actress a $2Million judgment. The world saw the verdict as a pass mark, but Heard and her legal team have remained unsatisfied.
In early July, Heard filed a motion to have Depp’s verdict set aside or have a mistrial declared.
APHer lawyers hinged their arguments on several factors, including an apparent case of mistaken identity with one of the jurors. They challenged the verdict because one of the seven jurors who decided over the case was never summoned for jury duty. Court papers per Rolling Stone state a county resident, 77, received a jury summons, but the man’s son, who has the same name and live at the same address, responded and served in his stead.
To the latter, they argued that Virginia law is strict about jurors’ identities, and the case of mistaken identity is grounds for a mistrial.
Getty ImagesThe legal team presented no evidence that the man’s son, 52, identified in court papers only as juror 15, purposefully or insidiously sought to replace his father but argued that the possibility shouldn’t be discounted. “The court cannot assume, as Mr. Depp asks it to, that Juror 15’s apparently improper service was an innocent mistake. It could have been an international attempt to serve on the jury of a high-profile case,” the lawyers wrote.
Among other things, Heard argued that Depp's $10M verdict is unsupported by the facts and seemed to demonstrate that jurors failed to focus on the fallout from the 2018 op-ed.
APHeard’s legal team also argued the verdicts for Depp, on the one hand, and Heard, on the other, is fundamentally nonsensical. “The jury’s dueling verdict are inconsistent and irreconcilable,” both Elaine Bredehoft and Benjamin Rotterborn had written. After the defamation trial, the jury awarded $15M to Depp, but it was reduced to $10.35Million because Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000.
In response to their arguments, Judge Penny Azcarate denied all of Heard’s claims and said the juror issue was irrelevant and that Heard couldn’t show she was prejudiced.
Court documents obtained by DailyMailThe Guardian reported that Azcarate wrote in the order: “The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated and reached a verdict. The only evidence before this court is that this juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the court’s instructions, and orders. This court is bound by the competent decision of the jury.” Regardless, Heard still can appeal the verdict to the Virginia court of appeals, and issues presented to the appellate court could be different from the issue Azcarate rejected.
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