**UPDATED: 7/13/2022 7:46 PM**
Reuters reports that Judge Penny Azcarate rejected Amber Heard’s request for a new trial. Judge Azcarate noted that Depp and Heard both had the opportunity to question all of the prospective jurors, that there was no proof of fraud, and that the verdict wasn’t affected by the irregularity involving the juror.
In her appeal of the $10 million judgment against her, Amber Heard is claiming that she should get a new trial because one of the jurors wasn’t summoned for jury duty. In their response, Johnny Depp’s legal team argued that Heard didn’t object in time and that she wasn’t prejudiced by having an allegedly wrong juror on the panel. Who is right?
Amber Heard | by gdcgraphics (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
What is the allegation?
Heard is claiming that a juror summons was sent to a person whose date of birth was in 1945. Although the person who appeared for jury duty had the same name as the person on the summons, the juror was born in 1970. According to Heard, the verdict should be thrown out because the person who appeared for jury duty wasn’t the person the summons was sent to.
Can a verdict be reversed if the wrong juror appears for jury duty?
There aren’t many cases where the wrong person is alleged to have appeared for jury duty. Generally, any objection to the make-up of the jury has to be raised as early as possible. This is called the contemporaneous objection rule. The rule is designed to give the judge the earliest possible opportunity to fix an alleged error.
When the wrong person is on the jury, the party who is objecting has to show that they were prejudiced by having the wrong juror present. In other words, the objecting party has to show that their case was harmed by having an unsummoned juror in their case.
What are the arguments?
Heard’s team is arguing that the verdict should be reversed because of the unsummoned juror. Depp’s team is arguing that Heard 1.) filed her post-trial motions too late; 2.) failed to present sufficient evidence that the wrong person appeared for jury duty; 3.) failed to object although she herself claimed that it was clear that the challenged juror was born after 1945; and 4.) even if the wrong person appeared for jury duty, Heard failed to show that she was prejudiced by the wrong person serving in the trial.
The case is ongoing.