Now, less than a month after the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor filed his formal appeal against his “Rum Diary” co-star, Heard’s new legal team has filed their own appeal and are hoping to get the verdict tossed entirely.
Although it’s been months since the jury made their decision on June 1, it’s possible that there are still years to go until the matter is decided.
Amber Heard Wants A New Trial Against Johnny Depp… Or The Whole Thing To Be Tossed Entirely
As reported by Deadline on Monday morning, the new legal team representing the “Aquaman” actress are seeking to use the First Amendment to get the jury’s verdict tossed out. On November 23, Jay Ward Brown and David L. Axelrod officially filed the brief with the Fairfax, Virginia courts.
In the court documents, Heard’s legal team claimed that “the trial court erroneously refused to dismiss this action on the ground of forum non conveniens, based on its mistaken conclusion that Depp’s claims arose in Virginia because the Washington Post’s servers are located here.”
“The trial court also erred in overruling Heard’s demurrer, in which she argued that the challenged statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion and are not reasonably capable of conveying the alleged defamatory implication,” the two attorneys continued.
Heard’s Legal Team Claims Johnny Depp Verdict Will Have A ‘Chilling’ Effect On Other Abuse Survivors
Heard’s legal team also claimed, “That holding, if allowed to stand, undoubtedly will have a chilling effect on other women who wish to speak about abuse involving powerful men.”
The latest court filing also condemns Judge Penney Azcarate, claiming that she failed to properly instruct the jury, which unanimously sided in Depp’s favor on June 1.
The 68-page court document also states that “This case also should never have gone to trial because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions,” referring to Depp’s defamation trial against the British tabloid The Sun, which referred to him as a “wife-beater.” Depp lost that case.
“After Depp filed this case, the United Kingdom High Court of Justice ruled in a separate defamation action brought by Depp that Heard’s abuse allegations were true,” the appeal said. “The trial court should have given preclusive effect to that 129-page decision, which followed a three-week trial at which Depp, Heard, and 24 other witnesses testified.”
In December 2018, Amber Heard filed an op-ed in the Washington Post where she wrote about becoming a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although Heard never referred to her ex-husband in the op-ed, Depp sued Heard in March 2019, claiming that he was unable to find work due to the “clear implication” that he was her abuser.
After failing to get the suit tossed, Heard countersued Depp for $100 million in 2020. Only a few months later, the “Edward Scissorhands” actor lost his trial against The Sun.
Both Amber Heard and Johnny Depp Seek To Appeal The Jury’s Verdict
On November 3, Johnny Depp’s legal team filed an appeal against Amber Heard. The jury found that one of Depp’s attorneys made a defamatory statement against the “Zombieland” actress and awarded her $2 million.
However, Depp was the clear victor in the trial. The jury awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. That $5 million was later reduced to only $350,000, the maximum allowed under Virginia state law.
Heard’s legal team stated that “The resulting jury verdict against Heard on all of Depp’s claims cannot be reconciled with the jury verdict against Depp on Heard’s counterclaim.”
“To find in favor of Depp, the jury must have concluded that Depp did not abuse Heard and that Heard knowingly lied in accusing him of abuse,” they continued. “But, to find in favor of Heard, the jury must have concluded that Heard told the truth about being a victim of domestic abuse by Depp. Accordingly, the verdict against Heard cannot stand.”
The appeals will now go to a group of judges to determine the respective appeals. Depending on the outcome of their decision, either Amber Heard or Johnny Depp could then escalate the trial to the Commonwealth’s Supreme Court. All in all, it could be years before the matter is resolved.
Heard’s full appeal can be read here.