A month after Johnny Depp won his multimillion-dollar libel suit against Amber Heard,pirates of the caribbean star now officially faces the first attempt to knock down his legal victory, with a hard one-two punch.
“For all the reasons set forth above, and for the reasons set forth at the hearings and at trial in the Motions in Limine and Motions to Strike, Ms. Heard respectfully requests this Court to grant the jury verdict in favor of Mr. Depp and against Ms. Heard in its entirety, dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, order a new trial,” says a not unexpected memorandum filed July 1 in Virginia Circuit Court by the Aquarius lawyers of the star.
Heard has long claimed that she has dealt with violent domestic violence at the hands of Depp. She told a UK court in 2020 and the US trial this year that she had also been repeatedly sexually assaulted by Depp.
Almost from the time the more than $10 million verdict was handed down on June 1 for an absent Depp in Judge Penney Azcarate’s courtroom in Fairfax, VA, Heard’s Eliane Bredehoft defense and $100 million countersuit team made it crystal clear that they would appeal. A demand by a curt, Judge Azcarate at a final June 24 hearing that Heard must pay $8.35 million bail to file an appeal, appears to be closing only one entry point for now while another opens up.
What is surprising, however, is Heard’s jury-directed uppercut unleashed. Contrary to the near-standard request to make the verdict in-depth on precedent and litigation grounds, claims of shoddy jury scrutiny could be explosive.
“Mrs. Heard further requests this Court to investigate possible improper jury service and take appropriate action based on the results of the investigation,” states the 43-page memo. In a case full of pretzel twists since Depp’s ex-wife first sued and… Rum Diary co-star for $50 million in early 2019 over late 2018 Washington Post open-ended with her byline on it, this move against the integrity of the court itself through juror No. 15 is a new-found, high-risk strategy.
“The information on the jury list does not seem to match the identity and demographics of any of the jury members,” the memo signed by Bredehoft exclaims. Juror No. 15 was apparently born in 1970, not 1945, as reported and trusted by the parties – including Ms. Heard – in selecting a jury panel,” the document continues.
“Given the verification requirements for each juror, it appears that the juror’s identity has not been verified,” it adds scathingly of the Old Dominion court. “It is unclear whether Judge No. 5 has ever been called up for jury duty or qualified to serve on the panel. This warrants an investigation by this court to determine whether the juror was actually summoned and whether the parties’ procedural rights were circumvented. Depending on the results of the investigation, this may justify quashing the verdict in its entirety and remanding this case for a new trial.”
After an explicit six-week trial, the seven-member jury handed Depp $10 million in damages and $5 million in punitive damages — the latter reduced to $350,000 due to the cap under Virginia law. Echoing statements by Heard and her attorneys since the conclusion of the trial, the new July 1 memo says that “the verdict is excessive as a matter of law in the light of the evidence and the law, and should be set aside.” .”
“Further evidence of the confusion resulting from Mr Depp’s efforts to settle the 2016 domestic relations issue without the veracity of the UK verdict, the dueling judges’ verdicts are inconsistent and incompatible,” continues. the memo, emphasizing both the volatile couple’s temporary restraining order interrupted divorce. It also grinds some salt by spotlighting Depp’s loss across the Atlantic in late 2020 in his libel suit against Rupert Murdoch’s The sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater.”
“The finding of defamation against Ms. Heard with a $2 million award is inconsistent with the finding of defamation against Mr. Depp with a $15 million award,” reads the paperwork of what many saw as a head-scratcher of a decision against Heard’s 2020 counter-charge.
Although the primarily ACLU-written op-ed owned by Jeff Bezos WaPo Never named Depp by name, the disputed actor claimed it was “ruining” his already waning career. In court records and in the stands, Depp claimed that he was, in fact, the one who was abused in the relationship.
Rarely mentioned the First Amendment as closing arguments, Heard’s team now focuses on the scope and depth needed to arrive at a defamation claim, as Depp has done thus far. A standard, they say, the previous Oscar nominee and his Brown Rudnick LLP crew fell short:
In order for Ms. Heard to show genuine malice, Mr. Depp had to determine that at the time the Op-Ed was published, Ms Heard did not believe she had been abused or that she had any doubts about whether she had been abused. But Mr Depp provided no evidence that Ms Heard did not believe she was being abused. Instead, the evidence overwhelmingly believed that Ms Heard was the victim of Mr Depp’s abuse. Therefore, Mr. Depp failed to meet the legal requirements for actual malice, and the verdict must be quashed.
Representatives for Depp and his legal team led by Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez did not request comment today on the new Heard motion and accompanying memo. On the other hand, Hollywood Vampires guitarist Depp himself, who had appeared on stage a few times last month with Jeff Beck in the UK during and after the judges’ deliberations, did take to social media this weekend. With a little less swagger than he had online in the hours and days immediately following the defamation verdict, Depp also had no immediate response to the new filing — until now: