Amber Heard’s lawyers asked the judge to dispose of a fileAgainst her in the defamation case brought by ex-husband Johnny Depp, arguing that the verdict was not supported by evidence and that a juror may not have been properly examined by the court.
In post-trial petitions filed Friday, Heard’s lawyers called the jury’s June 1 decision of $10 million in damages and $5 million in punitive damages for Depp “excessive” and “indefensible.” They ask the judge to overturn the ruling and dismiss Depp’s lawsuit or order a new trial. Immediately after the ruling, the judge reduced the compensatory damages to $350,000 under the state cap.
Depp sued Heard for defamation in Fairfax County Court over an op-ed she wrote in December 2018 in the Washington Post describing herself as a “public figure who represents domestic violence.” Depp’s lawyers alleged that the article was defamed, although he never mentioned his name.
The six-week televised trial turned into a scene that provided a window into their dysfunctional marriage. Much of the testimony focused on Heard’s allegations that she was physically and sexually assaulted by Depp. Heard described more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia – where Depp was filming the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean – in which Depp lost the tip of his middle finger and Heard said she was sexually assaulted with an alcohol bottle.
Depp said he never hit Heard and that she was the abuser.
Depp had to prove that he had never attacked Heard, that her editorial had defamed him and that she had written the article with real malice.
In their requests after the trial, Heard’s legal team argued that to find that Heard had actual malice, Depp 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 Ms. Heard’s belief that she was a victim of abuse at the hands of Mr. Depp,” Heard’s lawyers say in their pleading.
Heard’s attorneys also asked the judge to investigate “potentially improper juror service,” alleging that a juror selected to serve on the jury was listed as born in 1945 in documents submitted to attorneys prior to the jury selection process, but was included They are born in 1970 in publicly available information.
“This discrepancy raises the question of whether juror 15 actually received a summons to serve on jury and was properly examined by the court to serve on jury,” Heard’s attorneys said in their pleading.
Depp’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in her counterclaim against Depp, finding that Heard had been defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers, who accused her of creating an elaborate hoax that included undermining the couple’s apartment to make it look worse for the police.
In some ways, the trial was a repeat of a case Depp brought in the UK against a British newspaper after he was described as a “wife-beater”. A judge in that case ruled in favor of the newspaper in 2020 after finding out that Heard was telling the truth in her description of the abuse.