Judge Denies Amber Heard's Request for a Mistrial in Johnny Depp's Defamation Case

Amber Heard's request for a mistrial in her legal battle with ex-husband Johnny Depp was denied by a Virginia judge. Find out why.

By Gabrielle Chung Jul 13, 2022 8:22 PMTags
Watch: Judge DENIES Amber Heard's Request for a Mistrial Against Johnny Depp

It's another legal loss for Amber Heard in her court battle with Johnny Depp.

The Aquaman actress' request for a mistrial in the defamation case filed by her ex-husband, in which a Virginia jury ruled in favor of Depp, has been denied, according to court documents obtained by E! News. In a new order dated July 13, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate rejected Heard's argument that she was not given a fair trial after one juror allegedly served on the jury without being summoned, citing there has been "no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing" that warrants a mistrial.

Furthermore, Azcarate—who presided over Depp's six-week long trial against Heard—stated in her decision that the juror in question was "vetted by the Court on the record and met the statutory requirements for service," as well as questioned and approved by both Heard and Depp's legal teams prior to the trial. The judge also wrote that the jury list was provided to Heard's counsel five days before trial, so the actress "had every opportunity to object to or to voir dire on the issue."

"The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict," the docs read. "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."

Viral Moments From Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's Defamation Trial

On June 1, a panel of seven jurors found Heard liable of defaming Depp in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." Though she never mentioned the Pirates of the Caribbean actor by name in the essay, Depp's attorneys previously contended in court documents that Heard "concocted the story in hopes of generating positive publicity and to advance her career."

The jury initially awarded Depp $15 million in damages, though punitive damages were later reduced by Azcarate to the state's $350,000 legal limit, making the total damages awarded almost $10.4 million. Heard, who filed a $100 million countersuit against Depp over an alleged "online smear campaign," was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages.

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On July 8, Heard's legal team filed a motion for a mistrial, stating in court documents obtained by E! News that the trial's jury list included an individual listed as born in 1945, making them 77 years old, but that voter registration information also listed a 52-year-old with the same last name living at the older person's address.

"The individual who appeared for jury duty with this name was obviously the younger one," the filing read. "Thus, the 52-year-old...sitting on the jury for six weeks was never summoned for jury duty on April 11."

Heard's attorneys argued in the papers that the star's "due process was therefore compromised," adding, "Under these circumstances, a mistrial should be declared, and a new trial ordered."

Earlier this week, Depp and his lawyers submitted an opposition requesting that Heard's motion be struck down. "Though understandably displeased with the outcome of trial, Ms. Heard has identified no legitimate basis to set aside in any respect the jury's decision," read the filing. "Mr. Depp respectfully submits that the Court should deny Ms. Heard's Post-Trial Motions, which verge into the frivolous."

E! News has reached out to Depp and Heard's reps and has not received a comment.

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