Amber Heard’s legal team has requested that the verdict of her defamation lawsuit against Johnny Depp be quashed, or both parties return to court for a new trial.
In a 43-page memorandum filed on Friday, Aquarius 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 that has emerged in the Virginia court filings by Elaine Bredehoft, Heard’s lead attorney, is a claim that a juror is actually 25 years younger than he originally claimed to be.
Selecting the jurors based on their number, the submission stated, “Juror 15 had a birth year of 1945. However, Juror 15 was clearly born later than 1945. Publicly available information indicates that he appears to have been born in 1970.”
“This discrepancy raises the question of whether Juror 15 actually received a subpoena for jury duty and was duly vetted by the court to serve on the jury,” the filing continued.
According to the motion, the clerk is required to verify the identities of the jurors, although in this case “it appears that his identity could not be verified”.
The memo continued: “To the extent that the person serving as Juror 15 was not in fact the same person on the venire [an entire panel from which a jury is drawn]or that the Clerk’s Office has failed to verify his identity, Ms Heard’s due process has been compromised.
“The Virginia Code does not consider jury service by anyone who is not in the room for a good reason… In any case, but especially in a high-profile case such as this, it is critical to ensure that no one who is not in sitting in the audience shall be unable to serve on the jury, either through oversight or intent.
“Here the facts show that Judge was 15 decades younger than the person on the jury list, raising the question of whether they were the same or different people.
“Mrs. Heard therefore requests that the Court examine whether Juror 15 was properly part of the party and whether Juror 15 verified his information, prior to jury duty, in the manner prescribed by [Virginia Code]†
“Mrs. Heard further requests that the Court take appropriate action based on the results of the investigation, including ordering a new trial if necessary.”
In April, Heard filed a six-week lawsuit with Depp, who filed a $50 million lawsuit against her over a 2018 op-ed. The Washington Postin which she said she was a survivor of domestic violence.
During the proceedings, Heard and Depp threw at each other a series of allegations, including allegations of domestic violence — claims each star vehemently denied during their respective testimonials.
On June 1, the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, after Heard’s allegation was false and defamatory. The judge adjusted the punitive damages to $350,000, as Virginia law limits the value of available punitive damages.
Heard, who filed a counterclaim for $100 million, was awarded $2 million after it was discovered that Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman, had made defamatory comments about her.
The July 1 filing on behalf of Heard also called into question Depp’s claims against his ex-wife “on the sole basis of defamation by implication theory, abandoning all claims that Ms. Heard’s statements were factually false.”
Bredehoft said Depp’s legal team said it would focus on the period after Heard’s 2018 op-ed for the After was published, but in fact it broadened that window to include statements and events from 2016.
The filing concluded that Heard “respectfully requests the court to quash the jury verdict in favor of Mr. Depp and against Ms. Heard in its entirety, dismiss the complaint or, instead, order a new trial.
“Mrs. Heard further requests this Court to investigate possible improper jury service and to take appropriate action based on the results of the investigation.”
In response to the request, Ben Chew, who heads Depp’s legal team, told: Courthouse News Service in an email that Heard’s motion was “what we expected, just longer, no more substance.”
Depp lost his 2020 libel case against British tabloid The sunwho had called the actor a “wife-beater,” referring to the domestic violence allegations Heard made against him during their divorce proceedings in 2016.
Although Depp repeatedly denied ever being violent towards Heard during the three-week trial in London, the supervising judge found the newspaper’s claims to be “essentially true.”