Amber Heard is calling for a mistrial in the Johnny Depp defamation case after her legal team claims to have discovered that one of the jurors who decided the case was never actually summoned for jury duty.
On Friday, Heard's team filed a shocking new motion "based on additional discovered facts." According to a redacted copy of the filing obtained by EW, her lawyers allege that two people with the same last name live at the address where the summons was sent in April: a 77-year-old and a 52-year-old. The older individual was called to serve on the jury but, according to Heard's lawyers, the younger one showed up to court.
"Thus, the 52-year-old sitting on the jury for six weeks was never summoned for jury duty on April 11 and did not 'appear in the list,' as required," reads the motion.
The filing goes on to state that Virginia has safeguards in place to prevent these types of mixups, such as using of a 7-digit juror number, zip code, and birthdate to verify jurors' identities. "Those safeguards are in place and relied upon by the parties to verify the identity of the correct juror, to ensure due process and a fair trial for all litigants," reads the filing. "When these safeguards are circumvented or not followed, as appears to be the case here, the right to a jury trial and due process are undermined and compromised."
STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images; JIM LO SCALZO / POOL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Johnny Depp and Amber Heard during a defamation trial in Fairfax, Virginia.
Citing her right to "rely on the basic protection ... that the jurors in this trial would be individuals who were actually summoned for jury duty," Heard's lawyers are asking that a mistrial be declared and a new trial ordered.
Heard's team declined to comment on the motion, and Depp's team did not immediately respond to EW's outreach.
The case began back in 2019 when Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed detailing what she characterized as her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Though the op-ed does not mention Depp by name, his lawyers argued that the references to him were clear and damaging to his career and reputation.
The trial began in Virginia in April and concluded last month in Depp's favor when the jury ruled that Heard defamed him, awarding the actor $15 million in damages (which the judge reduced to $10.35 million in accordance with state law). Heard scored a small victory in her countersuit, receiving $2 million in compensatory damages and no punitive damages.
"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words," Heard said in a statement following the verdict. "I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband."
Depp said he was "humbled" in his own statement: "Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me," he said. "I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that."