A ‘just and fair verdict’ was allegedly prevented by ‘errors’ in the actress’s well-publicized libel suit with her ex-husband Johnny Depp, according to documents the actress’ legal team submitted on Thursday to the Virginia Court of Appeals.
Heard’s 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post, in which she identified herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse,” served as the central focus of the trial.
Despite the fact that Depp was not specifically mentioned in the piece, his legal team was successful in convincing the jury that it was libelous against him.
Depp received $15 million in damages from the judge, later reduced to $10.35 million, and Heard received $2 million in damages in a separate counterclaim.
As they seemed confident that the trial’s initial decision would hold, Depp’s team replied to the news that the appeal had been officially filed with assurance.
A spokesperson for Depp said: “The jury listened to the extensive evidence presented during the six-week trial and came to a clear and unanimous verdict that the defendant herself defamed Mr. Depp, in multiple instances.
“We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”
Heard made it known last month that she intended to appeal the verdict, so Depp’s legal team was not surprised to learn of the appeal.
To make it work, her legal team will need to show there were mistakes made during the trial or in the judge’s interpretation of the law, something Depp’s attorneys are convinced won’t happen.
Heard’s decision to appeal was described in a statement made on her behalf by a spokesman, who also criticized the “Twitter bonfires” they anticipated would “ignite” upon hearing that the appeal had been filed.
They said: “We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment. We are therefore appealing the verdict.
“While we realize today’s filing will ignite the Twitter bonfires, there are steps we need to take to ensure both fairness and justice.”
Although Heard’s attorney has already stated that she is unable to pay the $10.35 million in damages that the court has ordered her to pay to Depp, she will be required to post the damages she has been ordered to pay as a bond.
A retrial was requested by Heard’s team earlier this month, citing among other things the claims that one of the jurors served on the panel in an identity-related matter.
However, Judge Penney Azcarate rejected the request for a retrial, saying that the juror in question was ‘vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict’.
Responding to news that the chance of a retrial had been quashed, Depp’s team called the attempts ‘baseless’ and ‘frivolous’.