Even though the trial ended weeks ago, the drama is not slowing down between Disney star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. Depp had initially sued Heard for defamation based on a 2018 OpEd she wrote for The Washington Post. In the OpEd, Heard called herself a survivor of domestic abuse, and, while she never named Depp, the times that she said she was abused were when she was married to the Pirates of the Caribbean star. Depp sued Heard for $50 million, and she countersued for $100 million.
In the end, a jury awarded Depp just more than $10 million in damages and gave Heard only $2 million in damages. Heard’s team claimed that there was no way the actress would be able to pay that kind of money, and she is currently appealing the judgment. However, she just made a HUGE move in her legal battle. According to Deadline, Heard has fired her legal team as she looks to get the judgment against her dropped.
Not entirely unexpected, the move by the Aquaman actress to cut loose her main attorney Elaine Bredehoft follows weeks of judicial jockeying by both Heard and Depp to have another kick at the courtroom can with notices of intended appeals. Having seen ex-husband Depp awarded $10.4 million by a Virginia jury on June 1 after an often acerbic and explicit six-week trial, Heard has now hired David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown to represent her attempt to rescind the judgment. Ben Rottenborn of Virginia-based Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black will remain as a co-counsel.
“We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American,” said Heard’s newly minted attorneys in a statement this morning. “We’re confident the appellate court will apply the law properly without deference to popularity, reverse the judgment against Ms. Heard, and reaffirm the fundamental principles of Freedom of Speech.”
According to Heard’s new lawyers, she never named Depp specifically in her lawsuit, and she has the Constitutional right to speak her truth. They are claiming that the defamation trial judgment against her violates her First Amendment rights. Depp’s team, on the other hand, has claimed that Heard knew that Depp had not abused her and was therefore committing libel and slander, hence the defamation.
Should Heard’s appeal be granted, she and Depp could be back in court, in front of a new judge and jury, just after the new year. Heard’s new movie — Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — is set to hit theaters this coming March. In terms of his career, Depp has just signed a 7-figure deal with Dior to be the face of their Sauvage scent once again.