Depp Trial—Once More with Feeling? Heard Wants Mistrial in Jury Snafu

Plus: Amber Heard’s insurance company is bailing on her legal costs, saying it “doesn’t believe it has an ongoing obligation” to defend her
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Five weeks after losing duel defamation cases against ex-husband Johnny Depp to the tune of more than $10 million in Fairfax County, Virginia, Amber Heard was met with two new legal opportunities on Friday. On the upside, Heard’s lawyers believe they have grounds for a mistrial, thanks to alleged shenanigans in the jury room. Less promisingly, the Aquaman star’s insurer has just informed her that it will no longer be covering her bills for all of this litigation.

New York Marine and General Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit against the actor in federal court Friday, maneuvering to avoid paying Heard after her loss. The insurance company said in its suit that it “doesn’t believe it has an ongoing obligation to defend Heard,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Heard’s insurers had been on the hook for her defeat in the trial, in which Depp demanded $50 million for her 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of an unnamed abuser, and Heard countersued for $100 million, claiming a former Depp attorney defamed her while speaking as his legal rep when he said Heard’s accusations amounted to an “abuse hoax.”

In its complaint, New York Marine said, “An actual controversy has arisen and now exists between Plaintiff, on the one hand, and Heard, on the other hand, with regard to the duties and obligations owed between Plaintiff and Heard under the Policy with respect to indemnity” regarding her actions in the Depp case.

Another company, Travelers Commercial Insurance, said it “has spent and continues to spend substantial sums” for Heard’s defense under a homeowners policy it agreed to in 2018, according to court filings. It is now pursuing New York Marine for its portion of the costs.

On the offensive front, Heard’s attorneys filed for a mistrial on Friday, asking that the six-week proceeding and its verdict be wiped from history. In a five-page motion to the Fairfax County Circuit Court, Heard’s team contended that the wrong juror was seated during the trial, NBC News reports. That person, Juror No. 15, “was not the individual summoned for jury duty on April 11, 2022,” according to the filing.

The correct juror was 77 years old, Heard’s lawyers say, while Juror No. 15 was 52 years old. Curiously, court documents indicate that both individuals share the same last name and address.

Heard’s motion argues, “As the Court no doubt agrees, it is deeply troubling for an individual not summoned for jury duty nonetheless to appear for jury duty and serve on a jury, especially in a case such as this.”

Ya think?

Heard’s legal team further asserted—perhaps a tad belatedly—that her “due process was therefore compromised” and “a mistrial should be declared, and a new trial ordered.”

Heard has already said that she cannot afford to pay what she owes Depp under the now potentially questionable verdict.


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