Amber Heard Appeals the Defamation Verdict Against Johnny Depp
Amber Heard has filed an appeal against Johnny Depp’s defamation verdict. Last month, Heard’s legal team filed an appeal to the June verdict, in which jurors determined that Heard defamed Depp and “acted with genuine malice” in doing so.
Heard, whose 2018 Washington Post op-ed on being the victim of domestic violence was at the heart of Depp’s case, cites multiple reasons for her appeal in new court documents, beginning with the six-week trial’s Virginia location.
“Instead of suing Heard in California, where both parties lived and Depp claimed to have suffered reputational harm, Depp sued in Virginia, a wholly inconvenient forum with no connection to Depp or any meaningful connection to his claims,” the documents stated, adding that the location was permitted based on the “mistaken conclusion that Depp’s claims arose in Virginia because the Washington Post’s servers are located here.”
According to the documents, the actress alleges that “the trial court also erred in overruling Heard’s demurrer,” in which she claimed that her op-ed words “are non-actionable expressions of opinion and are not reasonably capable of conveying the asserted defamatory meaning.”
“That holding, if allowed to stand, will likely chill other women who seek to testify about abuse involving prominent males,” the documents stated.
Heard further claims that “this lawsuit should never have gone to trial since another court had already determined that Depp mistreated Heard on many occasions.
” That is a reference to the 2020 trial in the United Kingdom, in which a court determined that The Sun was justified in using the phrase “wife beater” in a 2018 piece about Depp’s relationship with Heard.
When the Virginia trial began, the docs claim that Depp “failed as a matter of law to meet his burden of proving actual malice” because “he did not demonstrate that Heard was aware of and intended to communicate the alleged defamatory implication that he had abused her” and “he did not establish that Heard knew the alleged implication was false or subjectively entertained serious doubts about its truth.”
The papers also claim that there were “many evidentiary errors that significantly disadvantaged Heard” during the trial. The documents also contend that “a critical condition for proving a defamation-by-implication claim was omitted from the jury instructions.”
The documents then go on to discuss Heard’s trial victory, in which she was awarded $2 million when the jury found Depp guilty after his counsel alluded to Heard’s claims as a “hoax.” Depp has filed an appeal against that ruling, stating that he should not be held accountable for his attorney’s comments.
“The resulting jury verdict against Heard on all of Depp’s allegations cannot be reconciled with the jury verdict against Depp on Heard’s counterclaim,” the documents stated, “and so the verdict against Heard cannot stand.”
Meanwhile, Depp was granted $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, which were ultimately reduced to $350,000 due to the state’s statutory cap.
“The jury’s verdict to Depp of $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (statutorily reduced to $350,000) is manifestly disproportionate considering the limited time frame for which Depp might recover,” according to the documents.
Heard’s appeal had long been anticipated, as she filed documents in July informing the court of her intent to appeal.
“We feel the court made mistakes that prohibited a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment,” Heard’s spokeswoman said at the time. “As a result, we are appealing the decision.
While we recognize that today’s filing may spark a Twitter firestorm, there are steps we must follow to ensure fairness and justice.”
A representative for Depp told that in reaction to the July filing, “The jury heard the overwhelming evidence given throughout the six-week trial and reached a clear and unanimous conclusion that the defendant repeatedly defamed Mr. Depp. We remain confident in our cause and believe that this judgment will be upheld.”
A source informed last month that Heard has been living in Europe with her daughter, Oonagh, since the trial.
“She believes she has more privacy, prefers it there, and is more comfortable,” the insider said. “She is well-treated and can go unnoticed in order to spend more time with her daughter. [She is] devoted to becoming a mother and being present for her kid. She is eager to move on and begin her next chapter.”