Johnny Depp’s lawyers urge judge not to toss Amber Heard verdict

Attorneys respond to request by Heard’s lawyers, who say the verdict was nonsensical and a juror was misidentified

Lawyers for Johnny Depp have urged the judge in the dueling defamation case with Amber Heard to leave his $10m judgment intact after attorneys for Heard requested that the verdict be set aside, including on grounds that one juror on the panel was misidentified.

In court papers filed on Monday, Depp’s lawyers dispute arguments from Heard’s team that the jury’s verdict was nonsensical and unfounded. They also say that the Heard team’s complaints about the juror’s identity are irrelevant.

Last month, a civil jury in Fairfax awarded $10.35m to Depp after they found he was defamed by Heard when she wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in the Washington Post about domestic violence.

The jury also awarded $2m to Heard on her counterclaim that she was defamed by one of Depp’s attorneys after he called her allegations a hoax.

Heard’s lawyers filed motions this month asking the judge to toss out the verdicts on the grounds of a variety of legal theories.

On Monday, Depp’s lawyers filed their response. They argue that there was nothing inconsistent in the fact that the jury awarded judgments in favor of both Depp and Heard. They claim the jury verdict form allowed jurors to be very specific about which statements were libelous, and that the verdict makes sense given the specific statements cited by the jury.

Depp’s lawyers also said it was too late for Heard’s team to object to the verdict over the identity of Juror 15. According to court papers, a summons went out to a 77-year-old man. But the man who responded in his place was his 52-year-old son, who has the same name and lives at the same address.

Depp’s lawyers argue that if Heard’s team had concerns, they should have spoken up at the time because it was apparent that the man who served was not 77 years old, even though court paperwork described him as such.

In Heard’s motion to vacate, her lawyers argued that the “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 not yet indicated if she plans to hold a hearing on the motions to set aside the verdict.

Separately on Monday, attorneys for a location manager who sued Depp, alleging the actor punched him during the 2017 shoot for City of Lies, filed papers in a Los Angeles court saying that a “conditional” settlement had been reached.

The court papers filed by Gregg “Rocky” Brooks’ attorneys did not divulge any terms but indicated to the Los Angeles superior court judge Holly Fujie that they would file a request for dismissal by 5 January.

Brooks alleged that Depp, now 59, punched him twice, then said he would pay the plaintiff $100,000 to “punch me in the face right now”.

Brooks claimed he was asked to sign an agreement waiving his right to sue the production over the altercation, and when he declined to do so, he was fired. Depp’s lawyers denied all of Brooks’ claims.


Edward Helmore and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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