Amber Heard filed an appeal, listing 16 grounds for appeal, four months after a jury awarded her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, damages of $10.3 million.
During the trial, concluded in June, Johnny Depp claimed he was vilified by a 2018 article Amber Heard wrote on behalf of the ACLU in support of domestic abuse victims. The opinion piece didn’t refer to the actor by name, but he successfully argued that readers could infer she was talking about him in two of her sentences and in the headline, “Amber Heard: I Spoke About Sexual Assault and I faced the wrath of our culture.” The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in damages in her countersuit due to a statement from Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, who called his claims of abuse a “hoax”.
According to documents obtained from Vanity Fair, the reasons for the appeal include everythingfrom the lack of “clear and convincing evidence” for actual intent, the standard by which defamation cases are decided, to the court’s failure to set aside damages awarded by the jury after determining that both Heard and Depp had defamed themselves to each other, something “intrinsically and irreconcilably inconsistent”.
Some of the reasons had already been mentioned in court or in post-trial interviews by his former representative Elaine Bredehoft, so the surprises were few. Several points have to do with admitted evidence that shouldn’t have been and denied evidence that should have been, including various communications with medical professionals, employees, friends, and family.
In another point, it reads: “The court erred in allowing Mr. Depp to argue or suggest to the trial that the jury could award damages based on statements or conduct that occurred before the publication”. In other words, Depp was suing over the article and therefore claiming that he lost his job and faced damages because of it, but the actor led the jurors to believe that Heard was on trial for statements or events prior to the publication of that article on the Washington Post in 2018.
In August, a spokesperson for Heard announced that she had distanced herself from Bredehoft and had entrusted the appeal to David L. Axelrod And Jay Ward Brown by Ballard Spahr, while Ben Rottenborn of Woods Rogers would remain as co-counsellor. Ballard Spahr instead defended the New York Times against the former Republican vice presidential candidate’s defamation lawsuit Sarah Palinand won, suggesting it would help frame the appeal more forcefully about First Amendment rights.
A Heard spokesperson told a Vanity Fair in August that “a different court justifies a different representation, especially since so much new evidence is now coming to light”.
The filing arrives in the court of Virginia in the wake of Depp’s US appearance. He was photographed signing autographs in New York, while he was with Jeff Beck for a North American tour. She played in New Jersey Tuesday night while Amber Heard was last photographed in Spain.