Last Updated 1 month Ago
The $10.35 million judgement against Amber Heard in the defamation case brought by her ex-husband Johnny Depp has been challenged by her attorneys, who claim that the evidence did not support the decision and that one of the judges may not have been thoroughly screened by the court.
Heard’s lawyers describe the jury’s June 1 decision of $10 million in punitive damages and $5 million in compensatory damages to Depp as “excessive” and “indefensible” in post-trial documents submitted on Friday. They ask the judge to overturn the decision, throw out Depp’s claim, or mandate a new trial. The judge immediately decreased the punitive damages to $350,000 due to a state cap following the verdict.
In December 2018, Heard penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post in which she referred to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp filed a libel lawsuit against Heard in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Despite the fact that the piece never specifically identified Depp by name, his attorneys claimed it was libellous.
The six-week trial that was shown on television evolved into a spectacle that provided a peek into their unhappy marriage. Heard’s allegations that Depp had assaulted her physically and sexually were a major focus of the hearing.
Heard detailed more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a brawl in Australia when Depp was filming a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel and Heard said she was sexually attacked with a liquor bottle. Depp claimed to have lost the tip of his middle finger in that incident.
Depp claimed that Heard was the abuser and that he never struck her.
Depp had to demonstrate that he never physically hurt Heard, that her op-ed piece defamed him, and that she had malicious intent when she penned the essay.
Heard’s legal team said in their post-trial papers that Depp would have had to provide proof that Heard did not believe she had been abused at the time her piece was published in order to establish that she possessed actual malice.
Heard’s attorneys write in their request that the evidence “overwhelmingly supported Ms Heard’s belief that she was the victim of abuse at the hands of Mr Depp.”
The attorneys for Heard also ask the judge to look into “possible improper jury service,” claiming that one of the jury members who was selected had been recorded as having been born in 1945 in papers provided to the council before to the jury selection process, but had really been born in 1970.
Heard’s attorneys alleged in their request that the disparity “raises the issue whether Juror 15 actually received a summons for jury duty and was properly vetted by the Court to serve on the jury.”
A request for comment from Depp’s lawyers was not immediately complied with.
Heard’s case against Depp was also successful, with the jury awarding her $2 million. The jury found that Heard had been falsely accused by one of Depp’s attorneys of fabricating a complex hoax that included roughing up the couple’s flat to make it appear worse to police.
The trial resembled a lawsuit Depp brought against a British tabloid in the UK after it called him a “wife-beater” in several ways. After concluding that Heard was telling the truth when she described the abuse, the judge, in that case, decided in favour of the newspaper in 2020.