Celebrity actress Amber Heard is requesting a new defamation trial against her ex-husband Johnny Depp, claiming the deck was stacked against her in the previous case. Last month, the 36-year-old Aquaman star filed an appeal, claiming that the exclusion of therapy notes in which she reported being abused resulted in an unfair trial. Fairfax County, Virginia Judge Penney Azcarate dismissed the evidence as hearsay.
Celebrity actor Depp received a $10.35 million verdict in June after his legal team successfully argued that Heard’s Washington Post op-ed accusing her ex-husband of domestic abuse was defamatory. The trial court erroneously barred the jury from considering several separate instances in which Heard reported Depp’s abuse to a medical professional, Heard’s attorneys wrote in their brief on Nov. 23.
If not overturned, the trial court’s exclusion of contemporaneous reports of domestic abuse to medical professionals will make it more difficult for other abuse victims to prove allegations of abuse and will likely discourage them from coming forward, they wrote.
Depp was awarded a $10.35 million verdict in June after arguing that Heard’s op-ed in the Washington Post claiming domestic abuse was defamatory.
The Aquaman star’s attorneys also argued that the trial should have taken place in California, where the couple previously lived, rather than Virginia, where the Washington Post’s servers are located. The filing stated that Virginia was an “entirely inconvenient forum” and had a connection whatsoever to the celebrity actor or any meaningful connection to his claims.
The case should never have gone to trial because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions, her lawyers added, referring to a 2020 UK ruling in favor of the British newspaper The Sun, which Depp had sued for calling him a wife-beater.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star has already filed his own appeal in the case, claiming that Heard’s one count of defamation was “erroneous.” Depp’s attorneys have also filed an appeal in the case, claiming that the single count of defamation on which he was convicted was ‘erroneous.’
The jury’s emphatic favorable verdict on all three defamatory statements alleged had fully vindicated celebrity actor and restored his reputation, his attorneys wrote in their filing. A panel of judges will rule on both appeal requests. Depp or the celebrity actress can then take the case to the state’s Supreme Court, depending on which legal team is disappointed by the ruling.
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