After failing to get a judge to declare a mistrial, the “Aquaman” actress is trying to file an appeal against the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor.
However, it looks like she might be disappointed in her previous attorneys, Elaine Bredehoft and Ben Rottenborn, as Heard is hiring new legal representation to handle her appeal.
Amber Heard Hires New Lawyers To Handle Johnny Depp Appeal
On June 1, a seven-person jury unanimously sided in favor of Johnny Depp, deciding that Amber Heard had committed defamation in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed where she declared herself a survivor of domestic violence.
The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages; however, that $5 million was later reduced to $350,000 dollars, the maximum amount allowed under Virginia state law.
That being said, the jury also found that one of Depp’s attorneys committed defamation when he called Heard’s abuse claims “a hoax,” and she was awarded $2 million dollars.
To say that Heard was disappointed in the outcome of the trial is an understatement. On Monday, August 15, Deadline reported that Heard has now hired David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown to represent her in her ongoing legal battle against Johnny Depp. Ben Rottenborn of Virginia-based Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black will still remain on her legal team as co-counsel, but Elaine Bredehoft is now gone.
Amber Heard’s Appeal Will Focus On Her First Amendment Rights
During closing arguments, Ben Rottenborn tried to focus on Heard’s right to freedom of speech, which was not brought up much throughout the six-week trial in Fairfax County, Virginia. The decision to bring on new legal counsel was publicized today in a court filing in the Old Dominion, where her new legal team made it clear that they will focus on her First Amendment right when considering her appeal strategy.
“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 new attorneys in a statement released on Monday 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,” Axelrod and Brown added.
Axelrod and Brown served as counsel to the New York Times’ successful court battle against Republican Sarah Palin’s libel suit over a June 14, 2017 editorial. The New York Times had initially tried to establish a link between the ex-GOP Vice Presidential candidate’s political action committee and a 2011 mass shooting that left six people dead and Rep. Gabby Giffords severely wounded. On February 15, Palin’s legal action was unanimously rejected by a New York jury and a judge overseeing the case.
Johnny Depp Seeks Career Shift Amid Ongoing Amber Heard Appeal Attempts
Although Heard is seeking a new legal team, Johnny Depp may be seeking a new career as he sets behind the camera to direct a new feature film. As reported by Variety on Monday morning, Depp will step behind the camera for the first time in a quarter of a century to direct “Modigliani,” which is reported to be a biographical drama about the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. “House of Gucci” star Al Pacino will produce the film alongside Barry Navidi.
The film will be based on Dennis McIntyre’s play of the same name. It takes place in Paris in 916 and tells the story of the Italian-born painter and artist. According to the film’s press release, Modigliani, “long considered by himself a critical and commercial failure, navigates a turbulent and eventful 48 hours that will become a turning point in his life, ultimately solidifying his reputation as an artistic legend.”
“The saga of Mr. Modigliani’s life is one that I’m incredibly honored and truly humbled, to bring to the screen,” Depp said in a statement. “It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph — a universally human story all viewers can identify with.”
No release date has yet been announced for the project, but with his upcoming movie roles and his musical collaborations with Jeff Beck, it looks like Johnny Depp’s career hasn’t been derailed by Amber Heard’s op-ed after all.