Amber Heard Loses Bid for Retrial

$10M verdict still stands, though actress plans to appeal
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2022 4:49 PM CDT
Judge Rejects Heard's Request for a New Trial
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury leaves the courtroom for a lunch break at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., in May.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool, File)

The Virginia judge who presided over the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation case on Wednesday denied the actress' request to throw out the jury's $10 million verdict and order a new trial. Heard had filed the motions last week, and Depp's team quickly opposed them. Judge Penney Azcarate also rejected Heard's claim that one of the jurors wasn't properly vetted, USA Today reports. Heard's team said that a 52-year-old man served on the jury in place of a 77-year-old man who had been called, which her lawyers argued was grounds for an investigation and new trial. Azcarate said Heard would have had to have raised that issue when jurors were selected.

The judge saw no indications of problems on the jury, per Deadline. "The only evidence before this Court is that this juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the Court’s instructions, and orders," Azcarate wrote. "This Court is bound by the competent decision of the jury." There's no possibility now of a retrial, but Heard has said she plans an appeal. That's complicated by the requirement that the actress put up a bond for $8.35 million, plus 6% interest, to cover the award before the appeal process can begin. Her lawyers said she doesn't have such an amount of money.

Heard's lawyers filed a 53-page brief listing a host of reasons the verdict was unfair and the amount excessive. The case began with a column Heard wrote for the Washington Post in which she referred to herself as a domestic abuse victim; the two were married for 15 months. The brief said that allegation was true and that the claims she made should have been protected by the First Amendment. The Fairfax County judge bought none of the arguments. "Defendant Amber Laura Heard's Post-Trial Motions I through VI are DENIED," the order says. One of Depp's lawyers said the actor was "most gratified " by the rulings. (Read more Amber Heard stories.)

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