Amber Heard Seeks to Throw out Verdict in Johnny Depp Defamation Trial

Amber Heard's next big legal move is to seek a reversal in the verdict of the Johnny Depp defamation trial. The actress, found liable in June on three defamation claims, claimed in a 43-page memorandum that the jury's verdict, along with the $10 million award, should be overturned because it was not supported by evidence.

Heard's lawyers filed new documents last week in Virginia, asking the judge to throw out the verdict for ex-husband Depp, dismiss the lawsuit or grant a new trial. Heard, who was represented at trial by Elaine Bredehoft, argued that Depp's claim that he lost his role in Pirates of the Caribbean because of remarks Heard made in a Washington Post op-ed was false, reported The Guardian.

A motion filed on Friday stated that Depp "proceeded solely on a defamation by implication theory, abandoning any claims that Ms. Heard's statements were false." Her attorney argued that the jury's award against her was excessive since she and Depp were found to have defamed each other.

Depp's lead attorney, Ben Chew, told Courthouse News that Heard's motion to dismiss was "what we expected, just longer, no more substantive." Heard also claimed that court officials improperly vetted one juror who served during the seven-week trial because their date of birth was 1945.

The motion noted that the juror, identified as Juror 15, "was clearly born later than 1945. Publicly available information demonstrates that he appears to have been born in 1970," the motion said. "This discrepancy raises the question of whether Juror 15 actually received a summons for jury duty and was properly vetted by the court to serve on the jury." The court clerk's office is obligated to verify the identity of the jurors, but in this case, "it appears his identity could not have been verified," the filing added. 

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In her ruling, Judge Penney Azcarate has indicated that more hearings are not likely to take place. Following Bredehoft's argument for further hearings, Azcarate entered the final judgment into the court record on June 24. Azcarate told Heard's attorney to file motions with the court if she wanted to appeal the jury verdict. The judge also informed Bredehoft that for any appeal to proceed, the Aquaman star must post an $8.35m bond with 6% annual interest. Heard's representatives claim she lacks the funds to pay Depp or cover the bond.

There is apparently little chance for an out-of-court settlement between the parties, with the $10 million judgment against Heard and the $2 million judgment against Depp registered with the court. Depp's lawyers indicated after the verdict that he might be willing to give up his share of the award. However, Heard has continued reiterating her allegations against him, including during an NBC interview.