Actress Amber Heard filed a notice of appeal on Thursday signaling her plans to challenge a $10.35 million defamation verdict in her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s favor.
Filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia, the two-page notice does not reveal the basis of the appeal.
“We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment,” Heard’s spokesperson said. “We are therefore appealing the verdict.”
A spokesperson for Depp also released a statement on the Pirates of the Caribbean actor’s behalf anonymously.
“The jury listened to the extensive evidence presented during the six-week trial and came to a clear and unanimous verdict that the defendant herself defamed Mr. Depp, in multiple instances,” the spokesperson said. “We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”
In addition to Depp’s victory, the Virginia jury also awarded Heard $2 million on one of her defamation claims, involving Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman.
Heard previously challenged the verdict at the lower court level, claiming one of the jurors inappropriately landed on the panel.
Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate rejected that argument.
“Defendant does not allege Juror 15’s inclusion on the jury prejudiced her in any way,” Azcarate found earlier this month. “The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict. The only evidence before this Court is that this juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the Court’s instructions, and orders. This Court is bound by the competent decision of the jury.”
In 2016, Heard filed for and obtained a protective order against Depp, claiming that he abused her. She then published an editorial in the Washington Post in 2018 that described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” two years earlier. Though the op-ed did not name Depp, the jury found that she defamed him by implication.
In the United Kingdom, Depp sued a British tabloid for calling him a “wife beater.” His case against The Sun went before a U.K. high court judge, who found in the newspaper’s favor. That judge credited 12 out of 14 incidents of domestic violence alleged by Heard as “substantially true.”
Since Heard’s defeat in the United States, her attorney Elaine Bredehoft cast the diverging verdicts as a “tale of two trials,” the U.S. trial that Depp won and the U.K. one that he lost. Bradehoft noted that the U.K. operates under more permissive evidentiary standards and said that the Virginia jury did not see some of the evidence rejected in the U.S. as hearsay. Heard, for her own part, blamed her defeat in part on social media, where degrading hashtags against her frequently trended during the trial.
Heard’s spokesperson alluded to this dimension of the case in a statement.
“While we realize today’s filing will ignite the Twitter bonfires, there are steps we need to take to ensure both fairness and justice,” the spokesperson said.
Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew skewered those explanations in an interview with the Law&Crime Network, saying that the jury simply examined the evidence.
“I think there was a real disconnect between what she was describing and what was depicted in the photos,” Chew told Law&Crime host Jesse Weber.
Chew and his co-counsel Camille Vasquez, who gained a devoted fan base from Depp supporters after she cross-examined Heard, planned to represent the actor in a separate lawsuit accusing him of assault in Los Angeles. The case now appears to be heading toward a settlement.
Read the filing, below:
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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