Amber Heard’s request for a mistrial in Johnny Depp’s defamation case against her has been shot down by the judge, who ruled that there was “no evidence” of wrongdoing in their six-week Virginia trial.
The “Aquaman” star’s lawyers argued in a motion filed last week that she should get a new trial because an alleged juror mix-up affected the outcome of the case. Heard’s legal team claimed that Juror No. 15 in their trial was not the one actually summoned for jury duty, tainting her right to a fair trial.
However, on Wednesday, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate, who presided over Heard and Depp’s defamation trial, rejected the 36-year-old actress’ bid for a new trial on multiple grounds, the New York Post reported.
“The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated and reached a verdict,” the judge wrote in her ruling.
The decision stated that Heard “does not allege juror 15’s inclusion on the jury prejudiced her in any way.”
“The only evidence before this court is that the juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the court’s instructions and orders,” Azcarate continued. “This court is bound by the competent decision of the jury.”
Heard’s legal team claimed that the person summoned for jury duty was 77 at the time, but a 52-year-old with the same last name and address instead showed up to court and was seated for the proceedings. Her attorneys asked the judge to declare a mistrial and order a new trial because Heard was not given the proper “due process.”
Depp’s lawyers countered that both sides received a “pre-panel jury list” more than two months before the trial and that Heard waived her rights to object by not bringing up the matter before it started. They also argued that even if there was a juror mix-up, Heard wasn’t negatively impacted because the juror was “vetted by the court and the parties’ counsel.”
“Unsurprisingly, Ms. Heard cites to no case law to support her argument that the service of Juror 15 if he is not the same individual that the Court assigned as Juror 15 somehow compromised her due process and would warrant the drastic remedy of ‘setting aside the verdict and ordering a new trial,'” Depp’s lawyers wrote in their filing, obtained by Variety. “Ms. Heard makes no showing of any prejudice, and accordingly her speculative arguments fail.”
The judge sided with the arguments of Depp’s lawyers, finding that the jury panel was questioned “for a full day.”
“There is no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing,” Azcarate ruled.
Last month, Depp was awarded more than $10 million in damages after the jury found that Heard defamed him in a 2018 op-ed about surviving domestic abuse.
Heard partially won her countersuit against Depp and was awarded $2 million in damages.