On Tuesday morning, the defense rested their case. Depp’s legal team then asked Judge Penney Azcarate to strike Heard’s $100 million countersuit from consideration.
The couple has been facing each other at the Fairfax County Circuit Court for most of the past month. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor is suing his ex-wife for $50 million over a December 2018 op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post where she claims that she is a domestic violence survivor.
Although she did not mention Depp by name, he claims that he has lost movie roles due to the “clear implication” that he was her abuser. Heard claims that she has also been losing out on movie roles, including several scenes from the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel, and is countersuing for $100 million dollars.
Amber Heard Countersuit Was Almost Dismissed On Tuesday Morning
Depp’s legal team, specifically attorney Ben Chew, mentioned multiple factors to sway the judge’s opinion and convince her to eliminate Heard’s $100 million countersuit from consideration. The first, they claimed, is that the statements made by Mr. Waldman were never seen by Depp. Mr. Waldman was employed by Depp as an independent contractor, and they argued that Depp cannot be held responsible for his statements.
They also argued that Heard did not prove that the statements were defamatory in his case. Chew claimed that Heard failed to prove that Mr. Waldman acted with “actual malice” when he called her abuse allegations a hoax.
Depp’s legal team also argued that Heard did not qualify for anti-slap measures based on the situation presented. The judge later ruled that the slap measures are just a defense and would not rule one way or the other.
Heard’s Attorney Argues Abuse Allegations Are Not A ‘Hoax’
Heard’s attorney, Ben Rottenborn, argued that Mr. Waldman identified himself as a spokesperson for Johnny Depp and refused to answer questions about his agency due to his attorney-client privilege, so they could not define with any real certainty if Depp knew about the alleged defamatory statements before they were published.
He argued that Mr. Waldman went to “sickening” lengths, including repeating a false statement that Amber Heard was being investigated by the LAPD for perjury, to defame Heard.
Rottenborn argued that Mr. Waldman was “standing in the shoes of Mr. Depp” when he made those alleged defamatory statements. He argued that calling Heard’s allegations a “hoax” is defamatory and mentioned the bruises seen on Heard that their witnesses had testified seeing.
Rottenborn said that Mr. Chew misrepresented the information in the trial when he accused the ACLU and Heard of “conspiring” against Depp. Furthermore, he told the judge that Heard’s statements are not a hoax because he claims that they provided “ample testimony” to prove that Depp engaged in “abusive behavior towards Mr. Heard.”
Judge Penney Azcarate Refuses To Strike Down Countersuit
Mr. Chew refuted Rottenborn’s statements, claiming that Heard’s attorneys have also made statements about Depp. Shortly after, Judge Penney Azcarate expressed that many statements presented by Mr. Chew were outside the motion to strike.
The judge explained that the defense’s duty is to prove that Mr. Waldman made statements that were defamatory. The judge recognized that it was not a question as to if Mr. Waldman made the statements but if he acted with malice. She also recognized that Depp met with Mr. Waldman shortly before the statements were made, so it could be inferred that Depp had some knowledge of the statements that were made before they were published.
As to whether his statements were defamatory, Judge Penney Azcarate decided that that was a matter left for the “fact-finder” AKA the jury, and denied their motion to strike. She said, “It is not my role to measure the veracity and weight of the evidence.”
As such, Heard’s countersuit against Depp is allowed to continue and will be deliberated upon by the jury after closing arguments are conducted on Friday.