Why has Amber Heard asked for a mistrial in the defamation case with her ex-husband Johnny Depp?
Amber Heard’s lawyers submitted a five-page motion to a Fairfax Co. Circuit Court judge on Friday claiming evidence for a retrial.
It’s been just over a month since Johnny Depp won a high-profile defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard in Virginia. Depp sued his ex-wife for $50 million after she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Heard responded by countersuing Depp for $100 million but lost the trial. Seven jurors found Heard liable for defaming Depp. The actress was ordered to pay Depp $10.35 million in compensatory and punitive damages while she stands to receive $2 million from her former husband in damages.
Since then, the Aquaman star has been keeping a low profile while Depp is on the road with Jeff Beck, joining the guitarist on his European tour. The case took a new turn on Friday, when Elaine Bredehoft, Ms Heard’s lawyer, submitted a five-page, post-trial motion to a Fairfax Co. Circuit Court judge, alleging that a member of the jury was not the person who had been originally summoned back in April. Bredehoft requested that the court should, “Set aside the jury verdict in its entirety, dismiss the complaint, or in the alternative, order a new trial”.
Right name, wrong jury member
The supplemental memorandum provides “newly-discovered facts and information” regarding a member of the jury, referred to as, “Juror 15″, backing up claims made in a previous motion filed a week earlier.
Bredehoft explained that Juror 15, the person who showed up for jury service is aged 52, born in 1970, and therefore could not be the same person originally summoned for duty in April, who is 77. Both share the same name and are resident at the same address.
The memorandum pointed out that: “Virginia law provides that only those (jurors whose names appear in the list provided for under 8.01-348 and 8.01-351) shall be used for the trial of cases, civil and criminal, to be tried during the term. The 52-year-old sitting on the jury for six weeks was never summoned for jury duty on April 11 and did not “appear in the list” as required under Va. Code: 8.01-355. Ms. Heard’s due process was therefore compromised. Under these circumstances, a mistrial should be declared, and a new trial ordered.”
Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez has anticipated that Ms Heard’s legal team would lodge an appeal and that the saga will continue. She told Access Hollywood’s Mario Lopez, “I think that the verdict speaks for itself. This was about Johnny getting up on the stand, telling his story, and telling the truth about what happened in that relationship. I think he did that and unanimously, the verdict was, he was defamed. We have another potential trial coming up in July”.
What happens now?
Depp’s legal team was expecting such a move. For a new trial to be granted, a motion by one of the parties must be made within thirty days after the date of judgment. The motion for new trial will be heard by the judge who rendered the judgment - in this case, Chief Judge Penney Azcarate.