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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The judge rejected Amber Heard’s request to annul the verdict in favor of Johnny Depp

A Virginia judge this afternoon rejected actress Amber Heard’s request to vacate the verdict in a libel trial that awarded her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, more than $10 million.

Depp won his libel suit against Heard last month in a civil lawsuit that generated widespread interest in the United States and abroad. Heard received lesser compensation, $2 million, in a countersuit filed against Depp.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.  AP

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. AP

Amber’s motion

This month, Heard filed a motion asking for the verdict to be vacated or a mistrial declared. Her attorneys cited multiple factors, including an apparent case of false identity by one of the jurors.

In a written order, Judge Penney Azcarate rejected all of Heard’s allegations and said the juror’s issue was irrelevant and that Heard was unable to show that it affected the trial.

Amber Heard.  AFP Photo

Amber Heard. AFP Photo

“The juror passed, sat through the trial, deliberated, and reached a verdict. The only evidence before this court is that that juror and all jurors followed their oaths, court instructions and orders. This court is attached to the competent decision of the jury,” Azcarate wrote.

Depp’s lawsuit

Depp sued for $50 million in Fairfax County after Heard published an op-ed in The Washington Post on domestic violence in which she referred to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyers said several passages in the text defamed him by implication by referring to the well-known allegations of abuse Heard made in 2016 when filing for divorce.

Johnny Depp AP Photo

Johnny Depp AP Photo

Heard then filed a $100 million counterclaim, also for defamation. By the time the case went to trial, his counterclaim had been reduced to a few statements from one of Depp’s lawyers, who said Heard’s allegations were a hoax.

The jury awarded Depp $15 million and Heard $2 million in his counterclaim. The award was reduced from $15 million to $10.35 million because Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000.

the other allegations

The judge did not state her arguments for rejecting Heard’s other allegations in her Wednesday order.

Among other things, Heard argued that the $10 million verdict was not supported by the facts, and that it appears to show that the jury did not focus on the consequences of the 2018 op-ed, as they should have, but rather vaguely on the harm. that Depp’s reputation suffered as a result of the alleged abuse.

Heard’s lawyers also argued that the verdict in favor of Depp and the verdict in favor of Heard are at odds and make no sense.

“The jury’s mixed verdicts are inconsistent and irreconcilable,” his attorneys Elaine Bredehoft and Benjamin Rottenborn wrote.

Heard’s attorneys also challenged the verdict on the grounds that one of the seven jurors who decided the case never showed up in court. According to court documents, a 77-year-old county resident was summoned to serve on the jury. Instead, his son showed up, who has the same name and lives at the same address. The son served as a jury.

Heard’s attorneys argued that Virginia law is strict about the identities of jurors, and in the event of a mistaken identity, the trial can be declared a mistrial. They did not present evidence that the 52-year-old son, identified in court documents only as jury (hash) 15, sought to replace his father on purpose or with malicious intent, but argued that possibility should not be ignored.

“The court cannot assume, as requested by Mr. Depp, that Juror 15’s apparently inappropriate service was an innocent mistake. It may have been an intentional attempt to serve on a jury in a prominent case,” Heard’s attorneys wrote.

next steps

Heard can still appeal the verdict to the Virginia Court of Appeals. The issues brought before the appeals court may be different from the ones Azcarate rejected on Wednesday.

Amber Heard.  Photo: AP

Amber Heard. Photo: AP

In a separate order, the judge ordered that dozens of court documents be released, including motions seeking to compel independent medical reviews for Depp and Heard. Some documents will remain confidential, mostly because they contain personal contact information or personal clinical information.

“In this matter, both litigants sued each other, thus opening themselves up to the public forum of a trial. The court files are public information,” Azcarate wrote.

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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