Johnny Depp’s Team Calls Amber Heard’s Mistrial Claims “Misplaced”

Though their clients have been elsewhere in the world, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s respective legal teams are still in court as they continue to lay the groundwork for a potentially lengthy post-trial process. Heard’s team claimed in a filing earlier this month that Depp’s lawyers had failed to provide evidence to support his claim that Heard’s op-ed published in The Washington Post in 2018, which did not name Depp, caused the actor damages by way of lost work. They added that Depp used the defamation trial to litigate the initial domestic violence claims that Heard made as she filed for divorce in 2016. Depp, they wrote, had his chance to challenge the claims back then and settled instead. 

Also, in a bizarre twist, Heard’s lawyers alleged in a separate filing Friday that Juror 15 had lied about his age, and is possibly the son of the man actually summoned for jury duty. Per the filing, these two men “apparently” have the same last name and address. “As the Court no doubt agrees,” Heard’s team, led by Elaine Bredehoft, wrote, “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.” They purport the error constitutes a mistrial, which would necessitate a new trial. 

About the case of mistaken identity, Depp’s team said in a Monday filing obtained by Variety that Heard’s “desperate, after-the-fact demand for an investigation of Juror 15 based on a purported error in his birth date” is “misplaced.” They claim that she failed to provide evidence that her due process was violated. They argued that two teams vetted Juror 15 “just as all of the other jurors were.” 

“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,’” wrote Depp’s lawyers. “Ms. Heard makes no showing of any prejudice, and accordingly her speculative arguments fail.”

At the close of the six-week trial in June, the jury awarded Depp $10.35 million for three claims of defamation. The 2018 op-ed advocates for legislation in support of domestic violence victims, and though it doesn’t name Depp, Heard writes that two years prior, which was around the time she filed for divorce from Depp, she “became a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in her concurrent defamation countersuit against him; they found that Depp’s lawyer had defamed her by telling the Daily Mail that she and her friends had orchestrated an elaborate abuse “hoax.”

Depp’s lawyers’ response states, “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.… Here, the verdict was well supported by the overwhelming evidence, consistent with the law, and should not be set aside. Mr. Depp respectfully submits that the Court should deny Ms. Heard’s Post-Trial Motions, which verge into the frivolous,” adding, “The Court should reject Ms. Heard’s baseless contention that the damages award was excessive and supported by evidence.”

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