Amber Heard’s attorneys request defamation verdict be tossed

Actor says in 43-page memorandum that the jury’s verdict should be set aside on the grounds that it was unsupported by evidence

Attorneys for actor Amber Heard have requested that the judgment against her in the dueling defamation case with ex-husband Johnny Depp be entirely set aside.

Heard, who was found liable on three claims of defamation in June, said in a 43-page memorandum that the jury’s verdict should tossed – and with it a more than $10m award – on the grounds that it was unsupported by evidence.

Represented by attorney Elaine Bredehoft at trial, Heard argued – among other things – that it was false for Depp to claim that he lost his role in Pirates of the Caribbean because of statements made by Heard in a Washington Post op-ed.

Depp “proceeded solely on a defamation by implication theory, abandoning any claims that Ms. Heard’s statements were actually false”, her attorney argued in a motion filed on Friday.

Heard also claims that the jurors’ award against her was excessive, having been handed down after a split verdict that found she and Depp had defamed one another.

In an email to Courthouse News, Depp’s lead attorney, Ben Chew, dismissed the motion to dismiss as “what we expected, just longer, no more substantive”.

Heard also claims that one juror who served during the seven-week trial was not properly vetted by court officials because their listed birth year was 1945.

The juror, identified in the filing 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 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 motion added.

Judge Penney Azcarate has indicated that she is not inclined to schedule more hearings in the case. In the last legal encounter, on 24 June, Azcarate put the final judgment in the court record after Bredehoft argued for further hearings.

Azcarate bluntly told Heard’s attorney that if she wanted to appeal the verdict from the seven-person jury, she would have to file motions with the court.

Azcarate also informed Bredehoft that the Aquaman star will have to put up an $8.35m bond with an annual 6% interest before any appeal would move forward. Representatives for Heard have said she does not have the money to pay Depp or meet the bond.

With the $10m judgment against Heard – and a $2m judgment against Depp on a single count of defamation – now registered with the court, there appears little opportunity left for the parties to reach an out-of-court settlement.

After the verdict, Depp’s lawyers hinted that the Pirates star might be willing to forgo his share of the award. But Heard has since repeated many of her claims against him, including during an interview on NBC, suggesting that the matter, at least for Heard, is far from resolved.


Edward Helmore

The GuardianTramp

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