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Judge makes jury’s 10.3 million dollar award official in Depp-Heard trial

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard (AP)
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard (AP)

The judge in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial made a jury’s award official on Friday, with a written order for Heard to pay Depp 10.35 million dollars (£8.43 million) for damaging his reputation by describing herself as a domestic abuse victim in an opinion piece she wrote.

Judge Penney Azcarate entered a judgment order into the court record after a brief hearing in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia.

She also ordered Depp to pay Heard two million dollars (£1.62 million), the jury’s award on her counterclaim that Heard was defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers.

The order was a formality after the jury announced its verdict on June 1, largely siding with Depp after a sensational trial in which the couple revealed lurid details of their short marriage during a televised trial that was closely followed on social media.

Depp-Heard trial
Johnny Depp waves to supporters as he leaves court (Craig Hudson/AP)

Depp sued Heard over a December 2018 piece she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.

The jury found in Depp’s favour on all three of his claims relating to specific statements in the 2018 piece.

The jury found Depp should receive 10 million dollars (£8.14 million) in compensatory damages and five million dollars (£1.22 million) in punitive damages, but the judge reduced the punitive damages award to 350,000 dollars (£285,000) under a state cap.

Heard has said she plans to appeal against the verdict.

During Friday’s hearing, the judge said that if Heard appeals, she must post a bond for the full amount of the 10.35 million dollar award while the appeal is pending – a common practice.

The judge’s order says both awards are subject to 6% interest per year.

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