EXCLUSIVE: If there wasn’t enough drama surrounding Johnny Depp’s win over Amber Heard last month in his multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit, things have now gotten judicially weird.
“MS. Heard had the right to invoke the basic protections required by the Virginia Code that the jurors in this trial are individuals actually summoned for jury duty,” read a new, partially redacted filing Friday Aquaman star’s legal team (read it here).
“In this case, it appears that juror #15 was not in fact the same person listed on the jury,” adds attorney Elaine Bredehoft, in language similar to an earlier June 24 filing. “Ms. Heard’s due process was therefore compromised. In these circumstances, a mistrial should be declared and a new trial ordered.”
Unlike the previous motion and memorandum that was filed in the Fairfax County courthouse late last month to reverse the June 1 verdict and have a new trial, today’s supplemental memo provides much more detail about what Depp could snatch victory in his long legal battle with his ex-wife.
According to the redacted filing, the jury service subpoena was mailed to a Virginia resident in April of this year for the much-delayed $15 million defamation lawsuit Depp filed against Heard in March 2019 for 2018 Washington Post Comment she wrote about being the “public face” of domestic violence. However, also according to today’s filing, it appears that there are two people residing at the same address and having at least “the same last name” – a 77-year-old individual and another a 52-year-old individual.
The former was the one summoned, but it looks like the latter was the one that showed up. “As a result, the 52-year-old (redacted), who served on the jury for six weeks, was never summoned to jury duty on April 11 and did not appear on the list as required,” Friday’s damning filing said.
Unnoticed by officials or court clerks, the younger person made it as far as the jury without apparently ever being asked for ID, or perhaps with fake ID, the filing implies. Additionally, it appears someone has either intentionally or accidentally filled out the required online information form to state that they were born in 1945.
Unaware of this at the time and during the media-hyped trial, Heard’s defense team now wants to see an explanation and some consequences that could take the shine off Team Depp:
As the Court will no doubt agree, it is deeply troubling for a person who has not been summoned to appear on jury duty to nevertheless appear on jury duty and be a member of a jury, particularly in a case like this. This was a high profile case in which the fact and date of the jury trial were made public before and after the jury subpoenas were issued. Virginia has enacted legislation designed to ensure that the person called to serve on a jury is the person who arrives for jury duty.
The Fairfax County Juror Questionnaire website furthers this goal by requiring all county residents to register with their 7-digit juror number, zip code, and “date of birth.” Att. 5 (emphasis added). These safeguards are in place and used by the parties to verify the identity of the correct juror to ensure due process and a fair trial for all litigants. When these safeguards are circumvented or not followed, as appears to be the case here, the right to a jury trial and due process are undermined and jeopardized
Neither Heard’s nor Depp’s reps have responded to Deadline’s request for comment on Friday. We are also attempting to appeal to the Virginia Court of Justice.
While the details are far out there, the gist of Heard’s move here is no surprise: Almost within a minute, Judge Penney Azcarate’s June 1 $10 million verdict in favor of an absent dork was in the courtroom, Heard’s defense and $100 million US Dollar Fell Countersuit Team has promised to appeal the verdict.
Given that Heard’s team had to post $8.3 million in bail to move forward, Heard’s team may have chopped off the financial Gordian knot with this apparent Keystone Kops-like incident.