Amber Heard to Appeal Johnny Depp Defamation Verdict, Claims Jury Were Swayed By Social Media

in Movies & TV

johnny depp leaving court

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Yesterday saw both actor Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard guilty of the defamation of each other in the highly publicized $50 million defamation lawsuit in Fairfax County, Virginia. Following Depp’s overall win, Heard will now appeal the jury’s verdict, according to the Hollywood star’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft.

amber heard (left) and johnny depp (right) on red carpet
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The defamation lawsuit between The Rum Diary (2011) co-stars, Johnny Depp and his actress ex-wife, Amber Heard, was one of the most publicized trials in entertainment history. The legal battle saw Depp and his lawyers, Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez face off against Heard’s team, Elaine Bredehoft and Benjamin Rottenborn in a six-week-long trial in Fairfax County, Virginia. It was a high-profile case with the lawyers deep-diving into the couple’s divorce, the alleged abuse, the result of the 2020 libel suit, and included testimony from Depp, Heard, and model, Kate Moss; Paul Bettany, James Franco, and Elon Musk did not appear.

johnny depp dior
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Depp’s $50 million lawsuit and Heard’s $100 million countersuit, stemmed from Heard’s Op-Ed in The Washington Post in December 2018. Heard claims she was “a public figure representing domestic abuse” while Depp states that the defamatory article was overwhelmingly about him. The jury ultimately found Heard guilty of defamation, issuing £10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages — Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the punitive damages to £350,000 due to statutory state law.

johnny depp (right) and amber heard (left) on red carpet
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Related: Johnny Depp Shocks Fans With Surprise Appearance 4,000 Miles From Courthouse

That same seven-person jury found Depp also liable for defamatory actions, mainly due to comments from his former lawyer, Adam Waldman, and Heard’s domestic abuse “hoax” claims, issuing a $2 million charge against the Pirates of the Caribbean actor. Both Depp and Heard released statements shortly after the verdict was issued.

johnny depp courtroom
Credit: Screenshot via Law & Crime

Now, Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft has told NBC’s Today that the Aquaman (2018) actress plans to appeal the jury’s decision, saying she has excellent grounds in which to do so. She said (via Deadline):

“She was demonized here,” Bredehoft said. “A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused.” She cited the different outcome in the UK, where a court ruled against Depp after he sought a judgment against The Sun for referring to him as a “wife beater.”

amber heard testimony
Credit: Screenshot via Law & Crime Network

The libel case at London’s High Court, which saw Depp take on News Group Newspapers’ British tabloid The Sun and executive editor Dan Wootton in November 2020, ended with Justice Andrew Nicol finding 12 counts of domestic abuse against Heard “substantially true”. Nicol also denied Depp’s appeal request in 2021.

It was the result of this libel trial that seemingly exiled Depp from Hollywood; he lost roles in both The Walt Disney Company’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff, the Fantastic Beasts franchise. For the latter, Mads Mikkelsen took over the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the Warner Bros. blockbusters.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Credit: Disney

Bredehoft went on to state that Heard could “absolutely not” pay the $10.4 million she owes Depp in damages, with the report stating:

Bredehoft said that one of the first things that Heard said after the verdict was, “I am so sorry to all those women out there. This is a setback for all women in and outside the courtroom, and she feels the burden of that.”

The interview goes on to describe the differences in both the U.K.’s libel trial and the defamation suit in the United States:

“Really what happened here is a tale of two trials.” She said that they were not allowed to tell the jury that the UK court “found that Mr. Depp had committed at least 12 acts of domestic violence, including sexual violence, against Amber. So what did Depp’s team learn from this? Demonize Amber and suppress the evidence. We had an enormous amount of evidence that was suppressed in this case that was in the UK case.”

amber heard as mera
Credit: Warner Bros.

Related: Depp Fans Tell Hollywood to “Pay Up and Apologize” After Bombshell Verdict

Bredehoft then explicitly states how social media impacted the court case:

“They went home every night. They have families. The families are on social media. We had a 10 day break in the middle because of a Judicial Conference. There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it, and it was horrible. It really, really was lopsided. …It was like the Roman Colesseum, how they view this whole case.”

#JusticeForJohnnyDepp dominated social media for years, and Johnny Depp fans congregated outside the courthouse during the six-week trial. The attorney also said that the televised trial made the whole trial “a zoo”.

Since the ruling on June 1, 2022, The Washington Post has added an Editor’s Note to Heard’s Op-Ed, citing the jury’s decision and the trial outcome.

jason momoa (left) and amber heard (right)
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While his future in film is uncertain for Depp — the actor has been replaced in Pirates of the Caribbean by Margot Robbie with Captain Jack Sparrow likely never returning to The Walt Disney Company’s billion-dollar franchise — and his career still on shaky ground, Heard is still slated to appear in the Aquaman sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) from director James Wan, where she stars as Mera alongside Jason Momoa’s Aquaman/Arthur Curry.

What are your thoughts on the outcome of the Depp v Heard trial? Let us know in the comments down below!

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