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Heard seeks to throw out verdict in Depp defamation trial

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA (AP) – Amber Heard’s lawyers have asked a judge to throw out the USD10.35 million verdict against her in the defamation case filed by ex-husband Johnny Depp, arguing that the verdict was not supported by the evidence and that one of the jurors may not have been properly vetted by the court.

In post-trial motions filed last Friday, Heard’s attorneys call the jury’s June 1 award of USD10 million in compensatory damages and USD5 million in punitive damages to Depp “excessive” and “indefensible”.

Immediately after the verdict, the judge reduced the compensatory damages to USD350,000 under a state cap.

They asked the judge to set aside the verdict and dismiss Depp’s lawsuit or order a new trial.

Depp sued Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”. Depp’s lawyers alleged he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned him by name.

The six-week televised trial turned into a spectacle that offered a window into their dysfunctional marriage.

A combination of photos showing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard testifying at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia. PHOTO: AP

In their post-trial motions, Heard’s team argued that to find that Heard had actual malice, Depp would have had to show that at the time Heard’s article was published, she did not believe she had been abused.

“Instead, the evidence overwhelmingly supported Heard believed she was the victim of abuse at the hands of Depp,” Heard’s lawyers said in their motion. Heard’s lawyers also asked the judge to investigate “potential improper juror service”, alleging that a jurors who was chosen to serve on the jury was listed as being born in 1945 in documents given to the attorneys before the jury selection process, but is listed as being born in 1970 in publicly available information.

“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 lawyers said in their motion.

Depp’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.