Amber Heard submitted additional information to a Fairfax Co. Circuit Court judge on Friday to support her claim that a juror who found her liable in a defamation claim by Johnny Depp was not the person summoned for jury duty.
Heard’s supplemental memorandum provides additional allegations about a person listed in court documents as “Juror 15.” The original claims about that juror were first discussed in a post-trial motion filed a week ago.
Heard’s attorneys said they have discovered new information that the person who showed up for jury duty was born in 1970. But the person who was actually summoned for jury duty was born in 1945 and would have been 77 at the time of the trial. Both the person who served and the person summoned live at the same address and share the same name, according to the supplemental memorandum.
“As the court no doubt agrees, it is deeply troubling for an individual not summoned for jury duty nonetheless to appear for jury duty and serve on a jury, especially in a case like this. This was a high-profile case, where the fact and date of the jury trial were highly publicized prior to and after the issuance of juror summonses,” attorney Elaine Bredehoft wrote.
The supplemental memorandum explains that the Virginia Supreme Court each year randomly selects jurors from a list of registered voters in the Fairfax area. The names on that list are then used to issue jury summonses for civil and criminal trials during that term.
Failing to seat the proper juror violated Heard’s due process rights, the memorandum asserts.
A footnote in the document sums up some of Heard’s contentions:
Mr. Depp would be incorrect in contending Ms. Heard somehow waived this argument by not raising it during voir dire. Not only were the voir dire questions ruled on in advance and the parties limited to those questions during voir dire, but the responsibility to ensure that the potential jurors participating in voir dire are the ones listed on the jury panel rests with those individuals and the Court. See Va. Code § 8.01-353. Due process entitles litigants such as Ms. Heard to rely on the basic assurance that potential jurors are who they say they are and are the actual individuals the Court summoned.
Amber Heard’s attorneys filed a motion prior the end of the trial to request the identities of the jurors be sealed for one year. The names of the jurors would typically be public record. Journalists typically try to speak to jurors following the conclusion of a high-profile case, but the sealing of their names has made that virtually impossible.
One anonymous juror spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” and said the jurors felt Heard cried “crocodile tears.”
“It didn’t come across as believable,” the anonymous male juror said about Heard’s testimony. “It seemed like she was able to flip the switch on her emotions. She would answer one question and she would be crying and two seconds later she would turn ice cold. It didn’t seem natural.”
Seven jurors deliberated for 13 hours before finding Heard liable for defaming Depp. The jury concluded that Heard acted with “actual malice” — a higher legal standard for public figures. The jurors awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. However, the punitive damages were capped at $350,000 by a Virginia state statute.
Heard wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in December 2018. It claimed two years prior she had become a public figure representing domestic abuse. While the piece didn’t mention Depp by name, his attorneys successfully argued that the piece was clearly written about Depp. The headline of the op-ed also discussed Heard speaking up against “sexual violence.”
The Post op-ed has since been updated to indicate that a jury considered the piece defamatory.
The jurors found Depp liable on one count of defamation against Heard for statements his lawyer, Adam Waldman, made to the Daily Mail in 2020. The jury considered the following statement by Waldman to be defamatory when viewed through the lens of actual malice:
Quite simply, this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops but the first attempt didn’t do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face and property. So Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist and then placed a second call to 911.
Heard cited that alleged May 21, 2016 incident when she requested a temporary restraining order against Depp six days later and appeared at a Los Angeles County Courthouse in a black dress with a brown mark on her face. The press waited outside for Heard to exit after being granted the TRO.
Depp testified he did not hit Heard on May 21, 2016 and had never abused her physically or sexually during their marriage.
In a hearing on June 24, Judge Penney Azcarate finalized the judgement. Bredehoft asked Azcarate to schedule a hearing for her post-trial motions but Azcarate responded, “I’ve had this case for 18 months and we had a six-week trial. We don’t need a hearing.”
Depp’s attorney, Ben Chew, said he would not be filing any motions and would only respond to those filed by Heard’s lawyers.
Read the newest court filing below:
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