Amber Heard has hired new lawyers ahead of her appeal of the Johnny Depp defamation trial verdict.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the ‘Aquaman’ actress announced that she had hired David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of Ballard Spahr as lead counsel, with Ben Rottenborn remaining as co-counsel.
Elaine Bredehoft, who represented Amber in the six-week trial earlier this year is stepping down from her legal team.
“When it comes to protecting the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech, we look at the jury’s decision — to paraphrase a famous quote — not ‘as the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.’ A different court warrants different representation, particularly as so much new evidence is now coming to light,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Elaine said of her stepping down, “This is the perfect time to pass the baton. I have pledged to Amber and her appellate team my complete cooperation and assistance as they move forward on a path towards success.”
Meanwhile, new counsel David and Jay said in a joint statement, “We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American. We’re confident the appellate court will apply the law properly without deference to popularity, reverse the judgment against Ms. Heard, and reaffirm the fundamental principles of Freedom of Speech.”
Last month, Johnny filed a notice of appeal which seeks to overturn the $2 million verdict awarded to Amber during their defamation trial.
His appeal comes just two weeks after Amber requested a mistrial, based on her legal team’s allegation that the wrong juror had shown up for jury service – however, her request was denied.
Just one week prior to this, the actress request the verdict in the defamation trial be overturned, and a new trial be ordered as they alleged the ruling wasn’t supported by the evidence presented over the six-week trial.
Johnny, 58, launched a $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife in 2019, after she wrote about being an alleged victim of domestic violence in the op-ed.
Following a six-week trial and 13 hours of deliberations, the jury sided with Depp and awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages, and a further $5 million in punitive damages.
However, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, which is the State of Virginia’s legal limit, resulting in total damages of $10.4 million awarded to Johnny.
Following the verdict, Amber’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft revealed the actress is “absolutely not” able to pay that much in damages to Johnny.
She has since launched multiple requests to appeal the verdict, as she claimed “a number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed”.
The attorney also blamed the verdict on a “number of evidentiary issues”, saying “there was so much evidence that did not come in.”
During the six-week long trial, Amber detailed multiple incidents of alleged abuse, and told the court that “violence became normal” towards the end of their relationship.
However, Johnny testified that he never hit his ex-wife, and claimed that she was the abuser in their relationship.
In court, the 58-year-old said the allegations that he was a “drunken, cocaine-fueled menace who beat women” have cost him “everything”.
Johnny and Amber first met in 2009 on the set of the film The Rum Diary, and were married in February 2015.
Their divorce was finalised two years later.