A month after Johnny Depp launched his multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard, the ex-Pirates of the Caribbean Star now officially faces his first attempt to crush his legal win with a hard double whammy.
“For all of the reasons set forth above, and for the reasons recorded during the hearings and in court in the motions in Limine and the strike motion, Ms. Heard respectfully requests this court to reverse the jury verdict in favor of Mr. Depp and against Ms Heard in its entirety, dismiss the lawsuit or alternatively order a new trial,” read a not unexpected memorandum filed July 1 in Virginia Circuit Court by the Aquaman Star Lawyers.
Heard has long claimed she suffered violent domestic abuse from Depp. She told a UK court in 2020 and the US trial this year that she was also repeatedly sexually abused by Depp.
Almost from the moment the June 1, $10 million absentee dork verdict was overwhelmingly returned in Judge Penney Azcarate’s courtroom in Fairfax, VA, the Eliane Bredehoft-led defense of Heard and made it crystal clear to the $100 million counterclaims team that they would appeal. A demand by a harsh Judge Azcarate at a final court hearing on June 24 that Heard must post $8.35 million bail in order to pursue an appeal appears to be closing only one entry point for now while opening another .
What is surprising, however, is the jury-directed uppercut that Heard unleashed. In contrast to the almost paradigmatic call for the verdict to be reversed on precedent and procedural grounds, claims of shoddy jury review could be explosive.
“MS. Heard further requests this court to investigate possible improper service of jury service and to take appropriate action as warranted by the findings of the investigation,” read the 43-page memo. In a case full of pretzel twists, since Depp his ex-wife first sued and Rum diary co-star for $50 million in early 2019 versus late 2018 Washington Post Open-Ended with their byline on it, this move against the integrity of the court itself via Jury #15 is a newly discovered, high-risk strategy.
“The information on the jury list does not appear to match the identity and demographics of any of the jurors,” the memo, signed by Bredehoft, reads. “Juryman No. 15 was apparently born in 1970, not 1945 as reported and relied upon by the parties – including Ms. Heard – in selecting a jury panel,” the document continued.
“Given the requirements for verification of each juror, the identity of the juror does not appear to have been verified,” it adds scathingly of the Old Dominion court. “It is unclear whether Jury No. 5 was actually ever called up for jury duty or was qualified to serve on the panel. This warrants an investigation by this court to determine whether the jury was actually summoned and whether the parties’ rights to due process were circumvented. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, this may justify overturning the judgment in its entirety and subjecting this matter to a new trial.”
After an express six-week trial, the seven-member jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages — the latter reduced to $350,000 due to the ceiling under Virginia law. Echoing what Heard and her attorneys have said since the trial concluded, the new July 1 memo said that “from a legal standpoint, given the evidence and the law, the verdict is excessive and should be overturned.”
“Further evidence of the confusion arising from Mr Depp’s efforts to re-evaluate the 2016 domestic relations matter without the truth of the UK verdict is the jury’s dueling verdicts which have been contradictory and unforgiving,” the memo said further, with emphasis being placed on the two volatile couples restraining order interrupted divorce. It also grinds in some salt by highlighting Depp’s loss across the Atlantic in his late 2020 defamation lawsuit against Rupert Murdochs The sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater.”
“Defamation finding against Ms. Heard with a $2 million award is inconsistent with defamation finding against Mr. Depp with a $15 million award,” the filing said , which many saw as a head scratcher of a 2020 decision in Heard’s counterclaim.
Though the commentary, mostly written by the ACLU, is owned by Jeff Bezos WaPo Never actually mentioning Depp by name, the argumentative actor claimed it “devastated” his already dwindling career. In court filings and on the witness stand, Depp further claimed that he was in fact the one who was being abused in the relationship.
Rarely mentioning the First Amendment until the closing arguments, Heard’s team now focuses on the scope and depth required to reach a defamation lawsuit, as Depp has done so far. A standard, they say, that the former Oscar nominee and his Brown Rudnick LLP crew fell short of:
In order for the jury to determine that Ms. Heard was demonstrating actual malice, Mr. Depp had to state at the time the comment was published that Ms. Heard did not believe she had been abused or that she had doubts that she had been abused. But Mr Depp provided no evidence that Ms Heard did not believe she was abused. Instead, the evidence overwhelmingly supported Ms Heard’s belief that she was the victim of abuse by Mr Depp. Therefore, Mr Depp failed to meet the legal requirements for actual malice and the judgment should be set aside.
Representatives from Depp and his legal team, led by Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez, have not responded to requests for comment on Heard’s new filing and accompanying memo today. On the other hand, Hollywood Vampires guitarist Depp himself, who has shared the stage with Jeff Beck in the UK a couple of times during and after jury deliberations last month, has been taking to social media this weekend. Depp showed slightly less bravado than he had online in the hours and day immediately following the defamation case’s verdict, and Depp, too, had no direct response to the new filing – yet: