Amber Heard alleges a juror in Johnny Depp trial was never chosen for duty

Weeks after she was found liable for defaming Johnny Depp and ordered to pay the actor millions of dollars, Amber Heard has alleged that one of the jurors was not actually the person summoned to be on the jury. Heard’s legal team said that the inclusion of the erroneous juror violated her due process rights and asked the judge to declare a mistrial.

The Friday filing provides more information about a claim Heard’s lawyers made when asking the judge to throw out the verdict last week. Her team asked the judge at the time to investigate “potential improper juror service,” The Associated Press reported, noting that in documents given to attorneys before jury selection, the person was listed as being born in 1945 — but public information showed the juror who showed up to the trial was born in 1970.

The new document, filed Friday by Heard’s legal team, offered new details on the alleged incident. A 77-year-old was randomly selected for jury duty, the document said — but instead, a 52-year-old with the same last name who apparently lives at the same address came to the court and served as a juror throughout the trial . Their names were redacted in the document.

The document did not provide any reason for why this allegedly occurred or say how the situation was uncovered.

The lawyers said Fairfax County has multiple measures in place — including requiring jurors to submit their zip code and birth date — to ensure the person summoned for jury duty is the person who actually appears. But somehow, according to the document, those measures didn’t catch that the wrong person was present at the trial.

“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,” the document said. “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.”

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Public Affairs said Judge Penney Azcarate, who presided over the trial, will not comment on the allegation.

Jury deliberations in Depp v.  Heard defamation case continue in Fairfax, Virginia
Actor Amber Heard waits before the jury said that they believe she defamed ex-husband Johnny Depp while announcing split verdicts in favor of both her ex-husband Johnny Depp and Heard on their claim and counter-claim in the Depp v. Heard civil defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, US, June 1, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein / REUTERS

Heard’s lawyers also said last week that Azcarate should throw out the verdict because the amount awarded to Depp — $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages — was “excessive” and “indefensible,” the AP reported.

The weeks-long trial ended in early June with the jury finding that Heard defamed Depp in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, and Depp was liable for his attorney calling her claims a hoax in a statement to the Daily Mail. Depp was awarded $15 million — though he could only collect $10.35 million due to state limits on punitive damages — and Heard was awarded $2 million.


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