As Amber Heard plans appeal, her lawyer says she can’t pay Johnny Depp $10.4 million
Amber Heard will “absolutely” appeal the verdict reached this week in her defamation trial against ex-husband Johnny Depp, her attorney announced Thursday morning.
Elaine Bredehoft, who represented the “Aquaman” actor at the trial in Fairfax, Va., told NBC’s “Today” show that her client has “excellent grounds” for an appeal after a jury awarded $15 million in damages to Depp and $2 million in damages to Heard. (Judge Penney Azcarate reduced Depp’s total to about $10.4 million, per Virginia’s statutory cap.)
Depp previously lost a similar libel case against the Sun tabloid in London, where a justice ruled in 2020 that “the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard.”
The dueling defamation cases between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard came to a simple end: She defamed him, but she won $2 million in her countersuit.
“We even had tried to get the U.K. judgment in to dismiss his case because he already had his shot,” Bredehoft told “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie.
“That’s one of the issues. But also ... there was so much evidence that did not come in.”
In 2019, Depp filed a $50-million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife based on a 2018 op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post in which she called herself “a public figure representing domestic abuse” but did not mention Depp by name.
In 2021, Heard filed a $100-million countersuit regarding public statements made by Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman, who dismissed her allegations of domestic violence as a “hoax.”
“One of the first things [Heard] said is, ‘I am so sorry to all those women out there,’” Bredehoft said. “This is a setback for all women in and outside the courtroom. And ... she feels the burden of that.”
The weeks-long trial, which was livestreamed via CourtTV and other platforms, ignited a firestorm on social media. Generally, there was a wave of public support for Depp — whose loyal fans gathered outside the courthouse to cheer him on — and an avalanche of vitriol toward Heard.
In her interview with “Today,” Bredehoft speculated that the pro-Depp, anti-Heard discourse informed the jury’s decision. She added that she was “against” cameras in the courtroom because of the sensitive nature of the case and that, ultimately, the decision to broadcast the trial “made it a zoo.”
Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard, who had sued and countersued each other in Virginia, issued dueling statements after the verdict was read Wednesday.
“[Heard] was demonized here,” Bredehoft said. “A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused.”
“[The jury] went home every night. They have families. The families are on social media,” Bredehoft continued. “We had a 10-day break in the middle because of the Judicial Conference. There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it, and it was horrible. It really, really was lopsided.”
After a bruising six-week trial, both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard face uncertain career prospects.
Asked whether Heard would be able to pay $10.4 million in damages, Bredehoft said, “Absolutely not.” A recent survey of hundreds of American adults found that most people want to continue watching Depp in movies but believe Heard should be dropped from future productions — suggesting that Heard’s career could suffer as a result of the trial.
In Bredehoft’s opinion, the outcome of the trial sends a “horrible message” that could have a devastating effect on victims of abuse.
“Unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively, you won’t be believed,” Bredehoft said.
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