Amber Heard faces high legal hurdles seeking to reverse Johnny Depp’s win
The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard libel trial, which generated intense interest for two months earlier this year as a livestreamed, no-holds-barred soap opera featuring one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, is not fading away quietly.
In advance this month, heard’s lawyers filed a fifty one-web page movement asking choose penney azcarate to set aside the jury’s verdict, which gave $10 million to depp and $2 million to heard on competing defamation claims. The movement cites multiple reasons that the verdict is untenable, from the surprising choice to declare both facets effective to one quantity or any other, to a bizarre case of improper identity with one of the jurors.
Depp sued for $25 million in fairfax county after heard wrote a 2018 op-ed piece within the washington submit about domestic violence wherein she stated herself as “a public parent representing domestic abuse.” the item by no means mentioned depp via name, however his lawyers stated several passages inside the article defamed him through implication by means of referring to rather publicized abuse allegations she made in 2016 as she filed for divorce.
Heard then filed a $50 million counterclaim, additionally for defamation. By the time the case went to trial, her counterclaim had been whittled down to 3 statements made through one among depp’s lawyers, who called heard’s abuse allegations a hoax. The jury provided $15 million to depp and $2 million to heard on her counterclaim. The $15 million judgment was reduced to $10. 35 million because virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000.
Heard’s lawyers say in court papers that the $10 million verdict is unsupported by way of the data, and appears to demonstrate that jurors didn’t recognition on the fallout from the 2018 op-ed piece — as they had been purported to do — and as an alternative simply appeared widely at the damage depp’s popularity suffered as a result of the alleged abuse. Depp’s lawyers, although, say the damages are supported with the aid of testimony from his agent and others. They say the precedents referred to via heard’s team to support her arguments “are a long time old, and none involves an international a-list celeb.”
Steve cochran, a civil lawyer in virginia who was appointed by way of a choose as a neutral conciliator within the case to attempt to decrease pretrial discovery disputes, stated he usually believed the weakest hyperlink in depp’s case changed into the damages, given evidence that the actor’s reputation have been ruined in hollywood nicely before the book of the op-ed. Still, he said he’s skeptical that heard can get the decision set apart. Scott surovell, a legal professional and democratic kingdom senator who practices regulation in fairfax, additionally said he sees little cause to set aside the damages.
“what the decide looks for … is that the decision become properly supported at trial and wasn’t based on hypothesis or conjecture. (depp) makes loads of cash from movies. That doesn’t sound to me like the damages were primarily based on speculation or conjecture, but on evidence,” he stated.
Heard’s lawyers argue that the verdicts for Depp on one hand and Heard on the other are fundamentally nonsensical.
“The jury’s dueling verdicts are inconsistent and irreconcilable,” her lawyers wrote.
Depp’s lawyers, though, say the verdict form used by jurors allowed them to express with specificity exactly which statements they found defamatory. When you look at the individual statements, they say, the dueling verdicts make sense.
Jeremiah Denton III, a Virginia Beach attorney with experience in defamation cases, said he doesn’t view the verdicts as irreconcilable. If anything, he said, the award most in jeopardy is the $2 million given to Heard, because he said it’s legally dubious that Depp can be held liable for statements made by his attorney.
“I don’t understand why the judge even allowed that issue to go to the jury,” he said
One of the more unusual objects inside the discussion is a case of obvious improper identification with one of the jurors. In line with courtroom papers, a seventy seven-year-old county resident received a summons for the trial. However the man’s son, who has the identical call and lives on the equal deal with, answered to the summons and served in his stead. Heard’s legal professionals say virginia regulation is strict about juror identities, and the case of unsuitable identification is grounds for a mistrial.
They’ve supplied no proof that the fifty two-12 months-vintage son, diagnosed in court papers most effective as juror #15, purposefully or insidiously sought to update his father, however they argue that opportunity need to now not be discounted.
“the courtroom can not expect, as mr. Depp asks it to, that juror 15’s reputedly mistaken service become an harmless mistake. It can were an intentional try and serve on the jury of a excessive-profile case,” heard’s legal professionals wrote.
Paul bekman, a baltimore lawyer who has additionally tried cases in virginia, said heard’s team had to improve any issues approximately the juror beforehand of time.
“all of us searching at a 52-year-vintage and a 77-12 months-antique would have the ability to inform — with a bit of luck — that there’s a distinction of 25 years, and they might have the proper to inquire about that,” he stated. “i accept as true with it’s far too past due to bitch about the juror.”
cochran additionally said he was skeptical that the confusion could bring about a mistrial or the decide placing apart the verdict, however he cautioned that it’s difficult to predict because the difficulty is so uncommon.
“i’ve been working towards for fifty years and by no means visible that issue arise,” he stated.