A Virginia choose on Wednesday rejected an effort by actor Amber Heard to put aside the US$10-million judgement awarded in opposition to her in favour of her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.
Depp gained a defamation swimsuit in opposition to Heard final month in a high-profile civil trial. Heard gained a smaller, $2-million judgement on a counterclaim she filed in opposition to Depp.
Earlier this month, Heard filed a movement searching for to have Depp’s verdict put aside, or have a mistrial declared. Her legal professionals cited a number of components, together with an obvious case of mistaken id with one of many jurors.
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In a written order, Decide Penney Azcarate rejected all of Heard’s claims and mentioned the juror subject particularly was irrelevant and that Heard can’t present she was prejudiced.
“The juror was vetted, sat for the whole jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict. The one proof earlier than this Courtroom is that this juror and all jurors adopted their oaths, the Courtroom’s directions, and orders. This Courtroom is sure by the competent choice of the jury,” Azcarate wrote.
Depp sued for $50-million in Fairfax County after Heard wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Submit about home violence through which she referred to herself as “a public determine representing home abuse.” The article by no means talked about Depp by title, however his legal professionals mentioned a number of passages within the article defamed him by implication by referring to extremely publicized abuse allegations she made in 2016 as she filed for divorce.
Heard then filed a $100-million counterclaim, additionally for defamation. By the point the case went to trial, her counterclaim had been whittled down to a couple statements made by one in every of Depp’s legal professionals, who known as Heard’s abuse allegations a hoax.
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The jury awarded $15-million to Depp and $2-million to Heard on her counterclaim. The $15-million judgement was lowered to $10.35-million as a result of Virginia legislation caps punitive damages at $350,000.
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The choose didn’t spell out rationale for rejecting Heard’s different claims in Wednesday’s order.
Amongst different issues, Heard argued that the $10-million verdict is unsupported by the information, and appears to show that jurors didn’t concentrate on the fallout from the 2018 op-ed piece — as they have been speculated to do — and as a substitute simply appeared broadly on the injury Depp’s fame suffered on account of the alleged abuse.
Heard’s legal professionals additionally argued argue that the verdicts for Depp on one hand and Heard on the opposite are essentially nonsensical.
“The jury’s dueling verdicts are inconsistent and irreconcilable,” her legal professionals, Elaine Bredehoft and Benjamin Rottenborn, wrote.
Heard’s legal professionals additionally challenged the decision on the idea that one of many seven jurors who determined the case was by no means summoned for jury responsibility. In response to court docket papers, a 77-year-old county resident acquired a jury summons. However the man’s son, who has the identical title and lives on the similar tackle, responded to the summons and served in his stead.
Heard’s legal professionals argued that Virginia legislation is strict about juror identities, and the case of mistaken id is grounds for a mistrial. They introduced no proof that the 52-year-old son, recognized in court docket papers solely as Juror #15, purposefully or insidiously sought to switch his father, however they argue that chance shouldn’t be discounted.
“The Courtroom can not assume, as Mr. Depp asks it to, that Juror 15’s apparently improper service was an harmless mistake. It may have been an intentional try and serve on the jury of a high-profile case,” Heard’s legal professionals wrote.
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Heard nonetheless has the flexibility to enchantment the decision to the Virginia Courtroom of Appeals. The problems introduced to the appellate court docket may effectively be totally different from the problems Azcarate rejected Wednesday.
In a separate order, the choose ordered that dozens of court docket paperwork be unsealed, together with motions searching for to compel impartial medical examinations of each Depp and Heard. A handful of paperwork will stay sealed, largely as a result of they include private contact info or private medical info.
“On this matter, each litigants sued each other, thereby opening themselves as much as the general public discussion board of a jury trial. Courtroom data are public info,” Azcarate wrote.
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