MATTHEW BARAKAT and DENIZ LAVOIE, Related Press
FALLS CHURCH, Virginia. (AP) — The trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, which generated plenty of curiosity for 2 months earlier this yr as a reside motion cleaning soap opera with one in all Hollywood’s largest stars, has not let up quietly.
Earlier this month, Heard’s attorneys filed a 51-page movement asking Choose Penny Azkarat to overturn a jury verdict that awarded Depp $10 million and Heard $2 million in competing defamation fits.
The movement cites a number of causes for the failure of the decision, from the sudden choice to declare each side winners to various levels, to a weird case of misidentification with one of many jurors.
Depp is suing for $25 million in Fairfax County after Heard wrote a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Put up about home violence through which she described herself as “a public determine representing home violence.” Depp was by no means talked about by identify within the article, however his attorneys mentioned that a number of passages within the article obliquely slandered him, referring to extremely publicized allegations of violence she made in 2016 when she filed for divorce.
Heard then countersued for $50 million, additionally for defamation. By the point the case went to trial, her counterclaim had been decreased to a number of statements by one in all Depp’s attorneys, who known as Heard’s abuse allegations a hoax.
The jury awarded Depp $15 million and Heard $2 million in her counterclaim. The $15 million judgment was decreased to $10.35 million as Virginia legislation limits punitive damages to $350,000.
Hurd’s attorneys say in court docket paperwork that the $10 million verdict shouldn’t be supported by the information and seems to display that the jury did not concentrate on the implications of the 2018 article – as they need to have accomplished – and as a substitute merely regarded broadly at reputational injury. Depp on account of alleged abuse.
Nonetheless, Depp’s attorneys say the injury is supported by testimony from his agent and others. They are saying the precedents cited by Heard’s workforce to assist her case are “a long time previous and none of them contain a world superstar.”
Steve Cochran, a Virginia civil lawyer appointed by the choose to behave as a impartial arbiter within the case to attempt to decrease pretrial disclosure disputes, mentioned he has at all times thought-about damages to be the weakest hyperlink in Depp’s case, given the proof that the actor’s status has been broken. was destroyed in Hollywood lengthy earlier than the article was revealed. Nonetheless, he mentioned he was skeptical that Heard might get his conviction overturned.
Scott Surowell, a lawyer and Democratic state senator who practices legislation in Fairfax, additionally mentioned he did not see a lot motive to chop damages.
“The choose is wanting … for the decision to be adequately confirmed in court docket and never primarily based on conjecture or conjecture. (Depp) makes some huge cash from movies. It appears to me that the injury was not primarily based on assumptions or conjecture, however on proof,” he mentioned.
“INCONSISTENT AND UNACCEPTABLE”
Hurd’s attorneys argue that the sentences to Depp, on the one hand, and Hurd, on the opposite, are basically meaningless.
“The dueling jury verdicts are inconsistent and irreconcilable,” her attorneys wrote.
Depp’s attorneys, nonetheless, say the type of the decision utilized by the jury allowed them to specify precisely which claims they thought-about defamatory. Once you have a look at particular person statements, they are saying the duel verdicts make sense.
Jeremiah Denton III, a Virginia Seaside lawyer with expertise in defamation instances, mentioned he didn’t take into account the verdicts irreconcilable. If something, he mentioned, the reward most in danger is the $2 million paid to Heard as a result of, he mentioned, it is legally uncertain that Depp could possibly be held accountable for statements made by his lawyer.
“I don’t perceive why the choose even allowed this problem to be delivered to the jury,” he mentioned.
Some of the uncommon factors of dialogue is the case of an obvious misidentification with one of many jurors. In line with court docket paperwork, the 77-year-old resident of the realm acquired a subpoena. However the man’s son, who bears the identical identify and lives on the identical deal with, answered the decision and served in his place.
Hurd’s attorneys say Virginia legislation is strict about juror id, and a misidentification case is grounds for a mistrial. They offered no proof that the 52-year-old son, recognized in court docket paperwork solely as juror quantity 15, purposefully or subtly sought to exchange his father, however they argue that the likelihood shouldn’t be discounted.
“The Court docket can not assume, as Mr. Depp asks, that juror 15’s manifestly improper service was an harmless error. It might have been a deliberate try to affix the jury in a high-profile case, ”wrote Hurd’s attorneys.
Paul Beckman, a Baltimore-based legal professional who additionally tried instances in Virginia, mentioned Heard’s workforce wanted to lift any questions in regards to the jury forward of time.
“Anybody who appears at a 52-year-old and a 77-year-old man will be capable to say – hopefully – that there’s a distinction of 25 years, and they’re going to have the suitable to ask about it,” he mentioned. “I believe it is too late to complain in regards to the jury.”
Cochran additionally mentioned he was skeptical that confusion might result in a mistrial or an overturn by the choose, however warned that this was tough to foretell as a result of the issue was very uncommon.
“I’ve been practising for 50 years and have by no means seen this problem come up,” he mentioned.
___ Lavoie reported from Richmond.
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