Amber Heard appeals to the court   


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Actor Johnny Depp is caught in a defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard based on a Washington Post op-ed regarding domestic violence.

Stephanie Eager, Centerspread Editor


   As of Oct. 12, 2022, Amber Heard has officially filed an appellate brief of her sixteen grounds appeal against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp. In the earlier trial from June, Depp claimed he was defamed in 2018 by Heard’s writing on behalf of the ACLU in support of domestic abuse. While her piece did not name Depp, readers could infer what the article was about. The headline provided by ACLU states, “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence—and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” Within the trial, the jury awarded Heard $2 million for the damages from the countersuit judge, Adam Waldman, after refuting her abuse claims as a “hoax.” 

   The appeal was expected after the previous events surrounding Adam Waldman, the lawyer of Johnny Depp. Heard’s request was based on the lack of “clear and convincing evidence” for actual malice, a standard whereby defamation cases are decided since the court failed to invalidate the damages assigned by the jury after discovering Depp and Heard defamed one another.  

   In the court or posttrial interviews, Heard’s former lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, referred to a few points issued for appeal by failing to keep evidence out of the court and the public eye. Other points filed stated, “The trial court erred in allowing Mr. Depp to argue or suggest at trial that the jury could award damages based on statements or conduct occurring before the publication of the challenged op-ed.” Ironically, the same op-ed had Depp suing for his claim of loss of work and damages he was owed. He even led trial members to believe Heard was on trial for prior statements from articles published by the Washington Post in 2018 from their divorce settlement.  

   Heard’s appeal will be managed by David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of Ballard Spahr, after the dismissal of Heard’s previous lawyer, Bredehoft. They are hoping for a more straightforward case, addressing the appeal due to co-counsel member Ben Rottenborn’s defending of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s defamation case and winning. Heard’s lawyers are hoping to frame their request around the First Amendment to strengthen their case and hopefully receive a more neutral perspective from a jury member. 

   The appeal arrived in the Virginia court after Depp’s appearance stateside. He was captured in the streets of New York with Jeff Beck for a tour of North America, while Heard was last spotted vacationing in Spain. 

Additional reading:

A judge rejects setting aside the verdict for Johnny Depp against Amber Heard : NPR

Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial verdict – The Washington Post