Amber Heard files appeal against Johnny Depp verdict

Filing says libel verdict will have 'chilling effect' on women

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Amber Heard's new legal team has filed an appeal against the verdict in the defamation suit brought by her former husband, Johnny Depp.

The US jury found in June that an opinion piece in The Washington Post in which she said she “became a public figure representing domestic abuse” defamed Depp to the tune of $10 million.

Heard secured one of three counter-claims against Depp, 59, and was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages, against which Depp is appealing.

“This case also should never have gone to trial because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions," the filing said.

After Depp filed this case, the UK High Court of Justice ruled in a separate defamation action brought by him that Heard’s abuse allegations were true,” the document read.

Lawyers also contend that the trial should have never taken place in the state of Virginia.

Heard and Depp live in Los Angeles but his lawyers filed suit there on the argument that that is where The Post’s servers were.

“They filed there because he wouldn’t have won in Los Angeles,” someone close to the case told The National.

“A California jury would not have been starstruck by Depp. They would’ve seen right through him.”

Heard said the decision "undoubtedly will have a chilling effect on other women who wish to speak about abuse involving powerful men”.

She asks in the 156-page filing that the verdict be tossed or that she be granted a new trial.

Just last week, the abuse trial of actor Danny Masterson ended in a mistrial after three women accused him of similar acts of violence.

In New York, screenwriter Paul Haggis was found guilty on all counts in a civil rape trial.

The filing also objects to Judge Penney Azcarate’s decision to reject pieces of evidence such as Heard’s therapist’s notes in which she speaks of the abuse.

Depp and Heard met in 2009 when she auditioned to star opposite him in The Rum Diary. They married in 2015, but it was short-lived.

In May 2016, Heard filed for divorce and for a domestic violence temporary restraining order against Depp in Los Angeles Superior Court, submitting a declaration describing his temper, paranoia and substance abuse issues.

“I had to leave him,” the Aquaman star told the jury at the trial. “I knew I wouldn't survive if I didn't.

“Johnny would always say the only way out of [the marriage] was death. At the time, [filing for divorce] felt like the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

In November, feminist leader and Ms publisher Gloria Steinem, along with 130 other leaders and organisations, wrote an open letter in support of Heard.

"The vilification of Ms Heard and ongoing online harassment of her and those who have voiced support for her have been unprecedented in both vitriol and scale," the open letter read.

"Much of this harassment was fuelled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetised social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment."

Ms Azcarate's decision to allow cameras in the courtroom also sparked many debates as proceedings with allegations of domestic abuse are rarely televised.

The trial took place over a span of seven weeks and is estimated to have been watched by more than a billion viewers.

Updated: December 05, 2022, 10:20 PM