It turns out there is such a thing as “bad press.”
Publicity in the case involving divorced actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has been an issue since the case’s inception in March 2019. Chief Judge Bruce White of the Fairfax County Circuit Court apparently reached his limit Friday when he threw Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman off of the case. Judge White reasoned that Waldman had shared confidential information with the press that had been prohibited under a protective order.
Waldman–who often shares accusations of wrongdoing via Twitter with the sign-off, “But back in reality…”—had been admitted to the case “pro hac vice.”
“Mr Waldman’s statements show utter disrespect for the judicial process and the Court’s admonitions not to litigate this case in the press.”
But back in reality…. pic.twitter.com/A1zc7LlSKO
— Adam Waldman (@adam_waldman) September 27, 2020
The designation meant that although Waldman was not licensed to practice in Virginia, he had been permitted bar privileges solely for Depp’s case. After Heard’s legal team accused Waldman of spreading rumors to the press, the judge responded by revoking Waldman’s courtroom authority.
The litigation began as a $50 million defamation suit filed by Depp against Heard over allegations that he physically and psychologically abused her. Heard responded by accusing Depp of threatening to kill her and asking for the initial suit’s dismissal.
Press involvement has been an issue from the start of the case. Early on, Judge White issued a protective order to protect the confidentiality of both litigants’ personal information (such as contact information and medical diagnoses). Heard moved for sanctions against Waldman in September, arguing that “Throughout this litigation, Mr. Waldman has acted like anything but an attorney this Court has a right to expect.” Heard went on to accuse Waldman of multiple violations of the judge’s protective order, including distributing recordings, surveillance pictures, and witness statements to the public.
Another member of Depp’s legal team, attorney Benjamin Chew, argued on Waldman’s behalf at Friday’s hearing. Chew said the information shared had already been public, and argued that Heard’s lawyers also violated the protective order.
Some legal observers have opined that Depp should have fired Waldman long ago, due to his questionable history of interactions with the press.
If you are going to accuse your opponent of “litigating in the press,” and “leaking” declarations, don’t get caught by that opponent litigating in the press, and leaking declarations. pic.twitter.com/eK00IcXOBN
— Adam Waldman (@adam_waldman) September 28, 2020
Lawyer Benjamin Chew has not responded to Law&Crime’s request for comment on Waldman’s dismissal.
[Image via Patrick Hamilton/AFP/Getty Images]
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