Heard seeks to overturn verdict in Depp libel trial


Amber Heard’s lawyers have asked a judge to throw out the US$10.35 million verdict against her in the libel case brought by her ex-husband Johnny Depp, arguing that the verdict was not supported by evidence and that one of the jurors might not have been properly informed. examined by the court.

In post-trial motions filed Friday, Heard’s attorneys call the jury’s June 1 award of $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages to Depp “excessive” and “indefensible.” They ask the judge to overturn the verdict and dismiss Depp’s lawsuit or order a new trial. Immediately after the verdict, the judge reduced the compensatory damages to $350,000 under a state cap.

Depp sued Heard for defamation in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp’s lawyers claimed the article defamed him even though she never mentioned him by name.

The six-week televised trial turned into a spectacle that offered a window into their dysfunctional marriage. Much of the testimony focused on Heard’s claims that Depp had physically and sexually abused her. Heard described more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia, where Depp was filming a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel, in which Depp lost the tip of her middle finger and Heard said she was sexually assaulted with liquor. bottle.

Depp said that he never hit Heard and that she was the abuser.

Depp had to prove that he never assaulted Heard, that her opinion piece defamed him, and that she wrote the piece with genuine malice.

In their post-trial motions, Heard’s legal team argued that to determine that Heard had actual malice, Depp would have to have shown that at the time Heard’s article was published, she did not believe she had been abused.

“Instead, the evidence overwhelmingly supported that Ms. Heard believed she was a victim of abuse at the hands of Mr. Depp,” Heard’s attorneys say in their motion.

Heard’s attorneys are also asking the judge to investigate “potentially inadequate jury service,” alleging that one of the jurors who was chosen to serve on the jury was listed as being born in 1945 on documents provided to attorneys before the trial. jury selection process, but is listed as born in 1970 in publicly available information.

“This discrepancy raises the question of whether juror 15 actually received a jury summons and whether he was properly vetted by the court for jury duty,” Heard’s attorneys said in their motion.

Depp’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in her countersuit against Depp, finding that Heard was defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers, who accused her of creating a detailed hoax that included mistreating the couple’s apartment to make herself worse off. police.

In some ways, the trial was a repeat of a lawsuit Depp filed in the UK against a British tabloid after he was described as a “wife beater”. The judge in that case ruled in favor of the newspaper in 2020 after finding that Heard was telling the truth in his abuse descriptions of her.

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