In 2018, “Aquaman” actress Amber Heard published an op-ed in the Washington Post where she declared herself as a domestic abuse survivor. Although she didn’t mention Depp’s name in the article, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor claimed that he’s lost movie roles under the clear implication that he was her abuser.
Jury Sides With Johnny Depp In Legal Victory Over Amber Heard
It seems that the jury sided with Johnny Depp, as they awarded him $10 million dollars in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages from his $50 million dollar defamation lawsuit. Judge Penney Azcarate later reduced the $5 million dollars to $350,000 dollars, the maximum allowed under Virginia state law.
However, it wasn’t a complete victory over Heard, who still managed to get $2 million out of her $100 million dollar countersuit after another one of Depp’s attorneys called Heard’s abuse claims “a hoax.”
Many of Heard’s supporters, and Heard herself, have deemed Depp’s victory a “setback” for women and the #MeToo movement. However, attorney Camille Vasquez does not believe that’s the case.
“We’re here to talk about the case that we tried, right? We encourage all victims to come forward, have their day in court, which is exactly what happened in this case,” she told TODAY co-host Savannah Guthrie in an interview which was transcribed by Deadline.
Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, had indicated that Heard plans to file an appeal during her own interview.
Chew told Guthrie, “We feel very confident that there are no errors that would justify any kind of successful appeal.”
Attorney Ben Chew Says The Judge Was ‘Very Fair To Both Sides’
Although Heard was still awarded $2 million dollars, Vasquez felt that the verdict was “overwhelmingly positive” for Depp. She also pointed out that the seven-person jury “was unanimous. There were seven people that decided he was defamed.”
In her interview, Elaine Bredehoft claimed that important medical evidence, such as therapist’s notes, were withheld from the jury. Attorney Ben Chew was quick to dispute that claim.
“I think it was very disappointing to hear that and to hear her impugn the character of the jury,” Chew said. “The evidence that came in should [have] come in, and the judge was very fair to both sides.”
Bredehoft also claimed that she and attorney Ben Rottenborn were not allowed to submit evidence relating to a 2020 U.K. court’s ruling against Depp in his defamation lawsuit against the British tabloid The Sun, which had labeled him a “wife-beater.”
“That was a different process, right?” Vasquez asked. “And, also, Mr. Depp and Miss Heard, in this case, were parties; they had different disclosure obligations. We disagree. The overwhelming evidence that was presented in this case in Virginia, far exceeded what was presented in the UK, and we believe the jury got it right.”
Johnny Depp’s Attorneys Don’t Believe Jurors ‘Violated Their Oath’
The trial also saw intense social media interest, with users overwhelmingly in favor of Depp. Bredehoft even suggested that it was likely that jurors saw some of their postings. “There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it, and it was horrible. It really, really was lopsided,” Bredehoft said.
Chew said on Today, “I don’t think that there’s any reason to believe that the jurors violated their oath. And again, that suggestion was disappointing to hear.”
The jury, Vasquez said, was “admonished every single night. And they had a tremendous amount of respect I think for the court and the process and they were doing the best that they could.”
Chew said that his sense was that the jury’s verdict “had a lot to do with accountability, that Johnny owned his issues. He was very candid about his alcohol and drug issues. He was candidate about some unfortunate texts that he wrote, and I think it was a sharp contrast to Miss Heard, who …the jury may have perceived that she didn’t take accountability for anything.”
Johnny Depp Felt ‘An Overwhelming Sense Of Relief’ From Jury Verdict
Depp had performing in the U.K. with Jeff Beck after closing arguments and was not present in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Guthrie asked his attorneys what Depp’s reaction was after he learned the verdict.
“I think just an overwhelming sense of relief,” Vasquez recalled. “I was speaking with another friend of ours, a mutual friend of Johnny’s and ours, and he said, ‘I haven’t seen Johnny smile like that in six years.’”
In the interview with Good Morning America, Chew added that Depp was “over the moon. It was like the weight of the world had been taken off his shoulders and I feel that finally after six years he’s gotten his life back.”
Vasquez also explained a little bit of her strategy in cross-examination, saying, “something that we focused on, I focused on, was using her words against her. …Every question that was asked was tied to something she had said previously.”
George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Depp’s team had previously said that their goal was “not to impoverish Miss Heard.” He asked if it was possible if the two parties would reach a settlement where Heard forgoes an appeal and Depp agrees to waive the more than $10 million dollars he’s owed.
Chew would not discuss the matter citing attorney-client privilege, but did admit that “this was never about money for Mr. Depp. This was about restoring his reputation and he’s done that.”