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Amber Heard seeks to throw out verdict in Johnny Depp defamation trial

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

Amber Heard’s lawyers have asked a judge to throw out the verdict against her in the defamation case filed by ex-husband Johnny Depp.

They argued that the verdict was not supported by the evidence and that one of the jurors may not have been properly vetted by the court.

In post-trial motions filed on Friday, Heard’s attorneys call the jury’s award on June 1 of 10 million dollars in compensatory damages and 5 million dollars in punitive damages to Depp “excessive” and “indefensible”.

They ask the judge to set aside the verdict and dismiss Depp’s lawsuit or order a new trial.

Amber Heard
Amber Heard (PA)

Immediately after the verdict, the judge reduced the compensatory damages to 350,000 dollars under a state cap.

Depp sued Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 article she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.

Depp’s lawyers alleged he was defamed by the article even though it 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 she had been physically and sexually abused by Depp.

Heard described more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia – where Depp was shooting a Pirates Of The Caribbean sequel.

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

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp (PA)

Depp had to prove that he never assaulted Heard, that her article defamed him and that she wrote it with actual malice.

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

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

Heard’s lawyers also ask the judge to investigate “potential improper juror service”, alleging that one of the jurors who was chosen to serve on the jury was listed as being born in 1945 in documents given to the lawyers before the jury selection process, but is listed as being born in 1970 in publicly available information.

“This discrepancy raises the question whether Juror 15 actually received a summons for jury duty and was properly vetted by the court to serve on the jury,” Heard’s lawyers said in their motion.

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

The jury also awarded Heard two million dollars in her counterclaim against Depp, finding that Heard was defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers, who accused her of creating a detailed hoax that included roughing up the couple’s apartment to look worse for police.

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