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Amber Heard files to appeal judgement in Johnny Depp defamation case

Lawyers for the actress officially filed papers in Fairfax, Virginia requesting an appeal against the ruling in favor of Depp.

Update:
Lawyers for the actress officially filed papers in Fairfax, Virginia requesting an appeal against the ruling in favor of Depp.
TOM BRENNERREUTERS

Lawyers for Amber Heard have officially requested an appeal of the judgement in favor of her ex-husband Johnny Depp in the defamation case that gripped the world earlier this year as it was live streamed from the courtroom.

According to UK tabloid The Daily Mail, on the basis of court filings they had access to, lawyers for the Hollywood actress, filed papers at the courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, requesting an appeal to the 1 June judgement. In the verdict in the case, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages for defamation and $5 million in punitive damages - this was later reduced by the judge to the state maximum of $325,000. Amber Heard also won one of her three countersuit claims and was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages, with no punitive damages awarded.

Related: Depp as MTV Moonman, but Måneskin boob censored

Depp responds to Heard appeal

A spokesman for Johnny Depp issued a statement responding to the news that Amber Heard had filed an appeal: “The jury listened to the extensive evidence presented during the six-week trial and came to a clear and unanimous verdict that the defendant herself defamed Mr. Depp in multiple instances. We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”

Amber Heard appeals after request for mistrial thrown out

Heard’s legal team’s initial strategy after the trial went against them was to ask Judge Penney Azcarate to declare a mistrial, arguing that one of the jurors was not eligible as the summons had in reality been for their father. Judge Azcarate said, refusing to declare a mistrial and hold a new trial, that there was “no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing’ by the juror and that the “jury’s verdict should stand.” She also pointed out that Heard and her legal team had had the opportunity to complain about the juror before but had not done so.

Judge Azcarate also refused to entertain Heard’s lawyers arguments that there was insufficient evidence to prove Depp’s claims, and that the damages award was excessive.

With the mistrial option denied, Heard’s lawyers have decided to appeal. In order to be granted, Heard will likely need to put up a bond showing she can raise the money she is owed Depp.

Heard’s arguments on appeal

In any appeal, the three appellate judges would in general be deciding whether the law was correctly interpreted and applied, not what the facts were as decided by the jury. That said, Heard’s team could argue that on legal grounds the jury should either not have heard some of the evidence in favour of Depp, or that evidence in favour of Heard was suppressed, which if found to be the case could lead to a finding in favour of Heard.

There are a range of other arguments the appeal could focus on, including whether the live streaming of the trial was right and proper, or if the jury should have been fully sequestered. There may also be first amendment arguments that which could open up a route to the Supreme Court, if the lawyers can find the right angle.

Whatever the arguments, and there will likely be a number of them, experts are certain that an appeal, if granted will be long and expensive, taking anywhere up to two years and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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