Judge rejects Amber Heard’s request to set aside Depp win
FALLS CHURCH, Va.
Depp won a defamation suit against Heard last month in a high-profile civil trial. Heard won a smaller, $2 million judgement on a counterclaim she filed against Depp.
Earlier this month, Heard filed a motion seeking to have Depp’s verdict set aside, or have a mistrial declared. Her lawyers cited multiple factors, including an apparent case of mistaken identity with one of the jurors.
In a written order, Judge Penney Azcarate rejected all of Heard’s claims and said the juror issue specifically was irrelevant and that Heard can’t show she was prejudiced.
“The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict. The only evidence before this Court is that this juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the Court’s instructions, and orders. This Court is bound by the competent decision of the jury,” Azcarate wrote.
Depp sued for $50 million in Fairfax County after Heard wrote a 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post about domestic violence in which she referred to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyers said several passages in the article defamed him by implication by referring to highly publicized abuse allegations she made in 2016 as she filed for divorce.
Heard then filed a $100 million counterclaim, also for defamation. By the time the case went to trial, her counterclaim had been whittled down to a few statements made by one of Depp’s lawyers, who called Heard’s abuse allegations a hoax.
The jury awarded $15 million to Depp and $2 million to Heard on her counterclaim. The $15 million judgment was reduced to $10.35 million because Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000.
The judge did not spell out rationale for rejecting Heard’s other claims in Wednesday’s order.
Among other things, Heard argued that the $10 million verdict is unsupported by the facts, and seems to demonstrate that jurors failed to focus on the fallout from the 2018 op-ed piece as they were supposed to do and instead just looked broadly at the damage Depp’s reputation suffered as a result of the alleged abuse.