On Thursday, Amber Heard’s legal team officially filed to appeal the June judgement that found Heard liable for three counts of defamation.
“We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment. We are therefore appealing the verdict. While we realize today’s filing will ignite the Twitter bonfires, there are steps we need to take to ensure both fairness and justice,” a spokesman told multiple media outlets, including Vanity Fair.
Johnny Depp sued Heard over a Washington Post op-ed published in 2018, in which Heard called herself a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Heard didn’t name Depp, but Depp argued that it could be easily inferred that his ex-wife was referring to him, and also that the opinion piece hurt his career. He sued for $50 million in damages, and Heard countersued for $100 million. After a six-week trial in a Virginia court, which ended in June, the jury awarded Depp with $15 million (reduced to $10.35 million due to Virginia’s cap on damages), and awarded Heard $2 million.
The appeal has been widely expected. After the trial ended, Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft told Savannah Guthrie on Today that they “absolutely” planned to appeal the judgement. “[S]he has some excellent grounds for it.”
A post-trial motion filed earlier this month might give a clue to the grounds of their appeal. The Bredehoft-led team wrote that Depp “proceeded solely on a defamation by implication theory, abandoning any claims that Ms. Heard’s statements were actually false.” They argue that Depp was trying to litigate domestic-abuse claims that arose when Heard was granted a temporary restraining order in 2016 as she filed for divorce from him. When they settled their divorce, the couple released a vague statement that read, “Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”
“From the beginning,” the July 1 motion reads, “Mr. Depp set out to try this case as a domestic relations dispute he wished he had tried, rather than settled, in 2016.”
Heard’s team added that Depp never actually provided evidence of the damages he was suing over—namely that he lost a lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean 6 deal due to the 2018 op-ed (a Disney executive denied his claim on the stand). In her appearance on Today, Bredehoft also criticized the fact that the seven-person jury was not sequestered despite the almost unprecedented public nature of the case, and was only told not to read about the trial.
A spokesperson for Depp told V.F., “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. We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”
The appeals process will likely be lengthy, offering ample opportunity for “Twitter bonfires.”
This article has been updated with a statement from Johnny Depp’s spokesperson.