Amber Heard asks court to declare mistrial in Johnny Depp defamation case, claims wrong juror sat in jury

Published on Jul 09, 2022 11:10 AM IST

Amber Heard’s lawyers are now alleging that a wrong juror was seated in the defamation trial against her ex-husband Johnny Depp. They want the US court to declare a mistrial in Johnny's case and order a fresh trial.

Actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury leaves the courtroom at a court in the US.(AP)
Actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury leaves the courtroom at a court in the US.(AP)

Actor Amber Heard wants a new trial to be ordered, and mistrial to be declared in her defamation case against ex-husband Johnny Depp. Her lawyers told a US court ‘due process was compromised’ in the high-profile trial as a wrong juror, who was not listed for duty, became a part of the trial, and therefore the court should dismiss the June 1 verdict and order a fresh trial. Recently, Amber’s legal team had also asked court to dismiss the defamation trial verdict, saying there was no evidence to back Johnny’s claim that Amber defamed her. Read more: Amber Heard asks court to dismiss defamation trial verdict for lack of ‘evidence’

Amber was ordered by the jury in a Virginia court to pay Johnny $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, which the judge lowered to $3.5 million because of a cap in the state of Virginia. On the other hand, Johnny Depp was ordered to pay Amber $2 million following their defamation trial. The jury ruled that Amber had defamed her ex-husband in a 2018 article, in which she said she was a victim of domestic abuse.

According to a new report, Amber’s lawyers are now alleging that a wrong juror was seated in the defamation trial. Deadline reported on Friday that a 77-year-old individual was called for jury duty, who appears to live at the same address as a 52-year-old, who had ‘the same surname’. The latter was the juror, who ended up seating on the jury throughout the trial.

"Ms. Heard had a right to rely on the basic protection, as prescribed by the Virginia Code, that the jurors in this trial would be individuals who were actually summoned for jury duty. In this case, it appears that Juror No. 15 was not, in fact, the same individual as listed on the jury panel. Thus, the 52-year-old- (redacted) sitting on the jury for six weeks was never summoned for jury duty on April 11 and did not ‘appear in the list,’ as required,” Amber’s lawyers said in a partially redacted new filing as quoted by Deadline.

Amber’s lawyer said that as a result of the alleged mistake, the ‘due process’ had been ‘compromised’, and therefore said that a mistrial should be declared by court, which would render the initial trial and its outcome invalid.

"Ms. Heard’s due process was therefore compromised. Under these circumstances, a mistrial should be declared, and a new trial ordered,” Amber’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft was quoted to have said in the new report.

Earlier, Amber’s lawyers had also alleged that Johnny was not entitled to any damages that were awarded to him by the jury, saying, “There is no evidence of damage to Mr. Depp's reputation caused by Mrs. Heard's Op-Ed."

Johnny and Amber have both accused each other of domestic violence. Johnny sued Amber for defamation because of an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018. She never mentioned his name, but she referred to herself as ‘a public figure representing domestic abuse’. In 2021, Amber countersued Johnny for $100 million.

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