Johnny Depp & Amber Heard’s Legal Battle Not Over; ‘Aquaman’ Star Formally Announces Appeal, If She Can Pay Up
Johnny Depp’s multi-million defamation suit against Amber Heard is over, but not really over if the Aquaman actress can pay a pricey bond.
In a short and sometimes tense hearing this morning in Judge Penney Azcarate’s Fairfax, Virginia courtroom, a final judgment in the explicit and high-profile trial that ended on June 1 was presented and entered into the docket (read it here). However, in a contentious back and forth with Azcarate, Heard’s main attorney Elaine Bredehoft sought to set a briefing schedule and more for a proposed appeal for her client in the civil case.
The Old Dominion judge bluntly told Bredehoft that if she wanted to appeal the verdict from the seven-person jury the lawyer would have to file motions with the court. Azcarate also informed Heard’s attorney that the Aquaman star will have to put up an $8.35 million bond with 6% interest per year for any appeal to formally move forward.
At the start of this month, Depp was awarded $15 million in damages by the jury in his $50 million defamation case. That sum awarded was almost immediately reduced to $10.35 million by Judge Azcarate in accordance with the state of Virginia’s punitive damages limitations. Oddly, while the jury found almost entirely for the former Pirates of the Caribbean star on June 1, they also awarded his ex-wife and Rum Diary co-star $2 million in damages out of Heard’s $100 million countersuit.
Though they both attended all of the six-week trial, neither Depp nor Heard were in the Virginia courtroom today. A later self-described “heartbroken” Heard had been in the room on June 1 when the verdict was read out. Choosing to spend his time touring the UK with Jeff Beck instead, Depp was absent for the verdict.
Reiterating Friday what she has said publicly in the past few weeks, Bredehoft made it very clear that Heard will be appealing the verdict. Bredehoft has also said that Heard does not have the money to pay Depp or meet the bond. As well as likely challenging the bond issue, Heard’s defense team have around 21 days to file their appeal
But, financial issues notwithstanding, it ain’t over for the Heard team.
“As stated in yesterday’s congressional hearings, you don’t ask for a pardon if you are innocent,” said a rep for the actress in a reference to revelations out of the January 6 committee hearings. “And, you don’t decline to appeal if you know you are right.”
Before today, it was Bredenhoft’s remarks on early morning TV that led many to ponder if the parties would come to a settlement before the final judgment was entered. In fact, it was in the hopes of a settlement that Judge Azcarate paused officially putting the judgment into the docket. In the end, despite some chatter over the last week from the Depp camp, there was no settlement on the table in court today.
Instead, drafted by Depp lawyer Ben Chew, the judgment was signed by Judge Azcarate as the hearing today concluded. Probably preferring to let the judgment do the talking, the Depp team had no statement on Friday.
Depp sued his ex-wife in March 2019 for $50 million over a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed Heard bylined about becoming “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Even though the ACLU-crafted article in the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper never mentioned the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas actor by name, Depp claimed it “devastated” his already dimming blockbuster career. Though he said nothing during the couple’s temporary restraining order defined 2016 divorce, on his filings and on the stand in the Virginia trial, Depp has also now insisted that he was in fact the one who was abused in the relationship.
Having failed repeatedly to get the case dismissed or moved out of Virginia, Heard in the summer of 2020 countersued for $100 million. That action came months before Depp’s UK libel case against The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater” proved dramatically unsuccessful in November 2020.
As appeal paperwork is being prepared, the battle with Heard is not the only legal fight Depp is engaged in.
City of Lies location manager Gregg “Rocky” Brooks’ 2018 assault and battery lawsuit against the movie star is set to go to trial in Los Angeles on July 25. Depp allegedly hit the crew member repeatedly on April 13, 2017 after being informed that DTLA filming on the Brad Furman helmed pic about the LAPD investigation into the 1997 murder of the Notorious B.I.G. was going to have to wrap up late that night. Apparently, the litigious Depp disagreed.
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