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Judge makes jury’s USD10.3M award official in Depp-Heard trial

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (AP) – The judge in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial made a jury’s award official recently with a written order for Heard to pay Depp USD10.35 million for damaging his reputation by describing herself as a domestic abuse victim in an op-ed piece she wrote.

Judge Penney Azcarate entered a judgment order into the court record after a brief hearing in Fairfax County Circuit Court. She also ordered Depp to pay Heard USD2 million, the jury’s award on her counterclaim that Heard was defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers.

The order was a formality after the jury announced its verdict on June 1, largely siding with Depp after a sensational trial in which the couple revealed details of their short marriage during a televised trial that was closely followed on social media. Depp sued Heard over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.

The jury found in Depp’s favour on all three of his claims relating to specific statements in the
2018 piece.

The jury found Depp should receive USD10 million in compensatory damages and USD5 million in punitive damages, but the judge reduced the punitive damages award to USD350,000 under a state cap.

Heard said she plans to appeal the verdict.

During the recent hearing, the judge said if Heard appeals, she must post a bond for the full amount of the USD10.35 million award while the appeal is pending – a common practice. The judge’s order said both awards are subject to six per cent interest per year.

Combination photo shows Johnny Depp and Amber Heard testifying at the Fairfax County Circuit Court. PHOTO: AP