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Amber Heard calls for new libel trial against Johnny Depp after losing multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit | Ents & Arts News

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Amber Heard has asked a Virginia judge to throw out her losing verdict against Johnny Depp and order a new court case, claiming the judgment wasn’t supported by evidence during the trial.

Lawyers for the 36-year-old Aquaman star set out a 43-page motion, claiming Depp “proceeded solely on a defamation by implication theory, abandoning any claims that Ms Heard’s statements were actually false”.

Calling the verdict “excessive”, the document went on: “Ms Heard respectfully requests this court to set aside the jury verdict in favour of Mr Depp and against Ms Heard in its entirety, dismiss the complaint, or in the alternative, order a new trial.”

The court case came to an end on 1 June, with the jury finding that a 2018 article Heard wrote for The Washington Post, about her alleged experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, was defamatory towards 59-year-old Depp.

Johnny Depp in court during the closing arguments of his libel trial against Amber Heard
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Johnny Depp said he bought the case in a bid to ‘reveal the truth’

The jury of five men and two women reached the verdict unanimously, saying Depp had proven all the elements of defamation.

They also found the majority of Heard’s allegations to be false and felt they conveyed a defamatory implication.

Depp, who sued Heard for $50m (£38.2m), was awarded $10.35m (£8.2m) in damages, a figure Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft could “absolutely not” afford to pay, and in the filing called the figure “indefensible”.

The sum was subsequently reduced by judge Penney Azcarate to $350,000 (£293,000) under a state cap.

Heard, who counter-sued the Pirates Of The Caribbean star for $100m (£76.4m), won on one count, successfully arguing that one of Depp’s attorneys defamed her by claiming her allegations were “an abuse hoax” aimed at capitalising on the #MeToo movement.

The jury awarded her $2m (£1.5m) in damages.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp pictured in January 2016, just a few months before their break-up. Pic: AP
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Heard and Depp pictured in January 2016, just a few months before their break-up. Pic: AP

Read more: Depp v Heard: The key bits of evidence from six weeks of ‘soap opera’ trial

In the motion, questions were also raised about “inconsistencies” in the recorded age of a jury member, citing “potential improper juror service”.

According to papers filed, Juror 15 was on the record as being born in 1945, however Heard’s lawyers say that “publicly available information demonstrates that he appears to have been born in 1970”.

Heard’s appeal also claims the jury didn’t have sufficient evidence to reason that Depp had lost film roles following her op-ed.

During the trial, the jury was told it was due to Heard’s Washington Post article that Depp had not been asked to reprise his role as Jack Sparrow in the sixth entry in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise.

Judge Penney Azcarate is presiding over the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard libel trial
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Judge Penney Azcarate presided over the trial, held in Fairfax County Court Virginia

Responding to Heard’s calls for the verdict to be thrown out, Depp’s lawyers said the motion was “what we expected, just longer [and] no more substantive”.

At the time of the June verdict, Depp’s legal team said they were enormously grateful to the jury and that it was a victory for “truth and justice”.

Depp said he felt “at peace” and was “truly humbled” after winning the lawsuit, adding that his decision to pursue the case “was only made after considerable thought” and his goal was to “reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome”.

However, after appearing in court for all the evidence, Depp was not there for the verdict, instead touring the UK with musician Jeff Beck.

Read more: Depp v Heard: How has online abuse of Amber Heard become acceptable?

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Heard ‘fears more libel suits from Depp’

Heard has said she was “disappointed” by the outcome, calling it a “setback” for all women.

Her lawyers previously vowed that she would appeal the decision, saying she has “excellent grounds” to do so as there was “so much” evidence that was not included during the trial.

Heard’s lawyer also said she could “absolutely not” afford to pay the $10.35m originally awarded to Depp.

Judge Azcarate has said Heard will have to put up an $8.35m (£7m) bond before any appeal would move forward.

The original court case spanned six weeks and called on multiple witnesses, experts, and testimony from Depp and Heard themselves.

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