Amber Heard’s legal team filed a motion Friday requesting that the verdict of the defamation trial against her ex-husband Johnny Depp be tossed, including the $10.35 million in damages awarded to Depp by the jury.
In addition to Heard’s attorneys arguing that the verdict is not supported by evidence, the 43-page document submitted to the Fairfax County Circuit Court Friday also calls “to investigate improper juror service,” claiming that public information indicates that a juror who served during the trial was born in 1970, despite court officials listing their birth year as 1945.
“This discrepancy raises the question whether Juror 15 actually received a summons for jury duty and was properly vetted by the court to serve on the jury,” Heard’s lawyers wrote.
Heard’s legal team also argues that the jurors’ $10.35 million award against the actress is “inconsistent and irreconcilable” with the jury’s conclusion both her and Depp had defamed one another. In addition to Depp’s $10 million in compensatory damages, plus $350,000 in punitive damages, the jury also awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages for her counterclaim.
“Mr. Depp presented no evidence that Ms. Heard did not believe she was abused,” Heard’s attorneys wrote. “Therefore, Mr. Depp did not meet the legal requirements for actual malice, and the verdict should be set aside.”
Depp’s lead attorney, Ben Chew, commented on the motion to toss the verdict, dismissing it as “what we expected, just longer, no more substantive” in a statement to Courthouse News.
The trial began when Depp, the plaintiff in the case, sued Heard for defamation regarding the 2018 Washington Post op-ed she published alluding to her past abuse allegations. Although the op-ed did not directly mention the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, Depp claimed it damaged his reputation and ruined his career. A year prior to the op-ed’s publication, Heard and Depp divorced after two years of marriage, with Heard alleging that Depp had subjected her to emotional, physical and sexual abuse throughout their relationship.
In 2020, prior to the American trial, the High Court of London ruled against Depp in a separate defamation case, after the actor sued the Sun for calling him a “wife beater.” The U.K. court ruled that he assaulted Heard in 12 of 14 alleged incidents.
Since the conclusion of the trial in June, Heard has appeared for interviews regarding the situation, describing the seven-week legal battle that unfolded in the public eye to “Today” as “the most humiliating and horrible thing [she had] ever been through.”
The Guardian was first to extensively report on Heard’s motion to toss the verdict.