Amber Heard's attorneys ask court to toss verdict in Johnny Depp defamation trial
Amber Heard's attorneys filed a motion Friday requesting to toss the verdict that she defamed her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.
In a wide-ranging memorandum, Heard's attorneys argue that the verdict is not supported by evidence. The document, submitted to the Fairfax County Circuit Court, also argues that Depp did not present evidence of actual malice or defamation.
It also calls for an investigation of "improper juror service," claiming there was a public information discrepancy in the birth year listed for one of the jurors. That juror, identified in the filing as Juror 15, had a listed birth year of 1945, but "publicly available information" indicates a birth year of 1970. The motion adds that the juror was "clearly born later than 1945."
"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 attorneys posit. The Aquaman actress' attorneys have thus asked the court to set aside the verdict in Depp's favor, dismiss the complaint, or order a new trial.
Depp "proceeded solely on a defamation by implication theory, abandoning any claims that Ms. Heard's statements were actually false," Heard's attorneys argued in the motion. In response, Benjamin Chew, Depp's lead attorney, dismissed the motion as "what we expected, just longer, no more substantive" in a statement to Courthouse News.
STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images (2) Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in court during their defamation trial
Reps for Heard and Depp didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment Monday.
In 2019, Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed detailing her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Though it doesn't mention Depp by name, his lawyers argued that the references to him (as well as Heard's previous public abuse allegations against him) were clear, claiming it damaged his career and reputation.
The trial began in Virginia in April and concluded last month in Depp's favor. The jury ruled that Heard defamed him and awarded him $15 million in damages. Heard scored a small victory in her defamation countersuit, receiving $2 million in compensatory damages and no punitive damages. The verdict stood in stark contrast to the ruling in Depp's failed 2020 lawsuit against The Sun, wherein he sued the British newspaper for calling him a wife-beater.
"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words," Heard said in a statement following the verdict. "I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband."
Depp said he was "humbled" in his own statement: "Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me," he said. "I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that."