Johnny Depp's lawyers say it doesn't matter if one of the jurors who helped decide his defamation case against Amber Heard was never actually summoned for jury duty — the verdict should stand regardless.
In a court filing Monday, obtained by EW, the actor's attorneys responded to Heard's request for a retrial, asking the court to deny her "frivolous motion in its entirety and reject her outlandish requests to set aside the jury verdict."
The scathing reply came after Heard's lawyers claimed in a motion Friday that they recently discovered a member of the jury was not called to serve. Her team argued that the discrepancy went unnoticed in part because the juror who did show up to court shares a name and address with the person who was meant to receive the summons. (There is, however, a 27-year age gap between the two.)
"Ms. Heard's desperate, after-the-fact demand for an investigation of Juror 15 based on a purported error in his birth date… is misplaced," Depp's lawyers said in the filing. "As a threshold matter, Ms. Heard waived her right to challenge the accuracy of the information listed in the jury panel by failing to raise this objection contemporaneously."
STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images; JIM LO SCALZO / POOL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Johnny Depp and Amber Heard during their defamation trial in Fairfax, Va.
According to Depp's lawyers, Heard's team was given a pre-panel jury list on April 6, "five days before the jury was empaneled," which they said "gave Ms. Heard ample time to verify the accuracy of the information contained therein."
Furthermore, Depp's team argued that Heard's lawyers failed to prove that the alleged juror mix-up compromised her right to due process. Assuming for the sake of argument "Ms. Heard's latest thesis, that a son served instead of his father, there would be no prejudice, as Juror 15 was qualified to serve as a juror in Fairfax County and was vetted during voir dire by the Court and the parties' counsel, just as all of the other jurors were."
The high-profile trial began back in April and concluded last month in Depp's favor, with a sympathetic jury ruling that Heard defamed him when she wrote a Washington Post op-ed in 2018 detailing what she characterized as her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. While the piece never mentioned Depp by name, his lawyers argued that references to him were clear and damaging to his career and reputation.
A jury in Fairfax County, Va., agreed, 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, meanwhile, said he was "humbled" by the favorable verdict. "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."