Johnny Depp’s lawyers have a message for his ex-wife Amber Heard: it doesn’t matter if the wrong juror showed up for their contentious defamation trial, you still have to pay up.
On Friday, Heard’s lawyers made a last-ditch effort to have the $10.35 million judgement against their client thrown out citing the revelation that one of the jurors who found the Aquaman actress guilty of defaming Depp was never summoned to court.
“In this case, it appears that Juror No. 15 was not, in fact, the same individual as listed on the jury panel,” attorney Elaine Bredehoft wrote in a statement obtained by Deadline. “Ms. Heard’s due process was therefore compromised. Under these circumstances, a mistrial should be declared, and a new trial ordered.”
According to the redacted filing, Deadline reports, the summons for jury duty was sent out to a Virginia resident in April. But there were two people living at the same address — a 77-year-old (who was the one summoned) and a 52-year-old (who showed up in court).
“The individual who appeared for jury duty with this name was obviously the younger one. Thus, the 52-year-old … sitting on the jury for six weeks was never summoned for jury duty on April 11,” violating Heard’s due process rights, the filing continued.
“As the Court no doubt agrees, it is deeply troubling for an individual not summoned for jury duty nonetheless to appear for jury duty and serve on a jury, especially in a case such as this.”
But in a response Monday, Depp’s lawyers fired back saying that Heard didn’t prove that her defence was thwarted by the error.
“Unsurprisingly, Ms. Heard cites to no case law to support her argument that the service of Juror 15 if he is not the same individual that the Court assigned as Juror 15 somehow compromised her due process and would warrant the drastic remedy of ‘setting aside the verdict and ordering a new trial,’” Depp’s lawyers wrote in a statement obtained by Variety. “Ms. Heard makes no showing of any prejudice, and accordingly her speculative arguments fail.”
A memo filed by Depp’s lawyers, and obtained by Deadline, added, “Though understandably displeased with the outcome of trial, Ms. Heard has identified no legitimate basis to set aside in any respect the jury’s decision. Virginia law is clear that a verdict is not to be set aside unless it is ‘plainly wrong or without evidence to support it’ … Mr. Depp respectfully submits that the Court should deny Ms. Heard’s Post-Trial Motions, which verge into the frivolous.”
Depp sued Heard for $50 million, accusing her of defaming him with a 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The three-time Oscar nominee claimed her article ruined his career and led to a series of cancelled film projects, including a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean feature.
Last month, a seven-person jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (which is capped at $350,000) over the article.
After the verdict, one of the jury members who ruled in Depp’s favour told Good Morning America that they didn’t think Heard’s testimony was believable.
“The crying, the facial expressions that she had, the staring at the jury — all of us were very uncomfortable…,” the juror said.
The Sun has sent emails to Heard’s reps seeking further comment.
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