In the defamation case brought by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, Amber Heard’s attorneys have requested a judge to overturn the $10.35 million decision against her. They claim that the verdict is not supported by the facts and that one of the jurors may not have been thoroughly screened by the court.
The jury’s June 1 decision of $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages to Depp is described as “excessive” and “indefensible” by Heard’s attorneys in post-trial motions submitted on Friday (July 1). They request that the judge throw out the decision, throw out Depp’s complaint, or order a new trial. The judge immediately decreased the compensatory damages under a state cap to $350,000 after the verdict.
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In December 2018, Heard penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post in which she referred to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp filed a libel lawsuit against Heard in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Despite the fact that the piece never specifically identified Depp by name, his attorneys claimed it was libelous.
The six-week trial that was shown on television evolved into a spectacle that provided a peek into their unhappy marriage. Heard’s allegations that Depp had assaulted her physically and sexually were a major focus of the hearing. Heard detailed more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a brawl in Australia while Depp was filming a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, and Heard said she was sexually attacked with a liquor bottle. Depp claimed to have lost the tip of his middle finger in that incident.
Depp claimed that Heard was the abuser and that he never struck her. Depp had to demonstrate that he never physically hurt Heard, that her op-ed piece defamed him, and that she had malicious intent when she penned the essay. Heard’s legal team said in their post-trial papers that Depp would have had to provide proof that Heard did not believe she had been abused at the time her piece was published in order to establish that she possessed actual malice.
Heard’s attorneys write in their request that the evidence “overwhelmingly supported Ms. Heard’s belief that she was the victim of abuse at the hands of Mr. Depp.” The attorneys for Heard also ask the judge to look into “possible improper juror service,” claiming that one of the jury members who was selected had been recorded as having been born in 1945 in papers provided to the council before the jury selection process, but had really been born in 1970.
Heard’s attorneys alleged in their request that the disparity “raises the issue whether Juror 15 actually received a summons for jury duty and was properly vetted by the Court to serve on the jury.” An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by Depp’s lawyers. The jury also decided to grant Heard $2 million in her counterclaim against Depp after concluding that one of Depp’s lawyers had slandered her by accusing her of fabricating a thorough fake that involved roughing up the couple’s flat to make it appear worse to police. The trial resembled Depp’s lawsuit against a British tabloid that was published in the United Kingdom after he was called a “wife-beater” in some ways. Heard was found to be telling the truth in her accusations of abuse, and the judge, in that case, decided in favor of the newspaper in 2020.
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