Amber Heard has claimed that a fake juror sat in her high-stakes defamation case with Johnny Depp, as she demands the judge declare a mistrial.
The legal team for the Aquaman actor filed new court documents in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia on Friday arguing that juror number 15 was not the person summoned to sit on the panel.
Juror 15 lives at the same address and shares the same last name as the individual summoned to serve on the jury, the documents state.
However, the two individuals were allegedly born 25 years apart.
Ms Heard, who was ordered to pay her ex-husband $8.35m in the defamation case, is calling for a mistrial and a new trial to be ordered.
The documents say that the individual listed on the jury panel list sent to both legal teams ahead of the trial starting was born in 1945 and is aged 77.
Juror 15 who sat through the almost two-month-long trial was born in 1970 and is aged 52, claim Ms Heard’s attorneys.
While the two individuals allegedly share the same last name, it is not clear if they also share the same first name.
“Juror No. 15 was not the individual summoned for jury duty on April 11, 2022 and therefore was not part of the jury panel and could not have properly served on the jury at this trial,” the documents state.
“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.”
The latest saga threatens to throw the high-profile case into turmoil, coming one week after Ms Heard’s team first raised concerns about the age of the juror.
“The Virginia Code does not contemplate jury service by someone not on the venire, for good reason … In any case, but especially a high-profile case such as this one, it is critical to ensure no person who is not on the venire is able to serve on the jury, whether by inadvertence or intention,” documents filed on 1 July state.
“Here, the facts show Juror 15 was decades younger than the individual on the jury panel list, raising questions as to whether they were the same or different people.”
The new documents filed on Friday further support this claim and raise alarm bells around the true identity of the juror.
Mr Depp sued his ex-wife for defamation over a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post where she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse and spoke of feeling “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”.
Following the dramatic televised trial, a jury of seven determined in June that Ms Heard had defamed him on all three counts.
Jurors awarded Mr Depp $10m in compensatory damages and $5m in punitive damages, before Fairfax County Circuit Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the latter to the state’s legal limit of $350,000.
Ms Heard won one of her three counterclaims against her ex-husband, with the jury finding that Mr Depp – via his lawyer Adam Waldman – defamed her by branding her allegations about a 2016 incident “an ambush, a hoax”.
She was awarded $2m in compensatory damages but $0 in punitive damages, leaving the Aquaman actor $8.35m out of pocket.