Amber Heard’s ex-husband has started his own move against the verdict in Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against her less than a day after Amber Heard gave notice that she was going to appeal the verdict.
The former Pirates of the Caribbean actor has put his legal cards on the table by filing papers in Fairfax County this morning. The four-page notice of appeal said, “Plaintiff and Counterclaim-Defendant John C. Depp, II, by counsel, hereby appeals to the Court of Appeals of Virginia from all unfavorable rulings and from the final judgment order of this Circuit Court entered on June 24, 2022.” (read it here).
Depp’s appeal is both a response to Heard’s July 21 appeal and an attempt to get back the $2 million that a Virginia jury gave Heard in her $100 million countersuit against Depp and his $50 million complaint from 2019.
On June 1, after a six-week trial that was often harsh and direct, a seven-person panel gave Depp a nearly total win and about $15 million in damages. Judge Penny Azcarate cut that award down to about $10,3 million because the laws of the Old Dominion put a limit on punitive damages.
A person close to the Jeff Beck sideman’s camp told Deadline on Friday, less than 24 hours after Heard filed her long-awaited paperwork, that the verdict was “overwhelmingly positive” for Depp.
“The verdict speaks for itself,” the source said, and, “Mr. Depp thinks it’s time for both sides to move on with their lives and heal.” “But if Ms. Heard is determined to go to court again by appealing the verdict, Mr. Depp has filed a parallel appeal to make sure that the Court of Appeal looks at the full record and all relevant legal issues.”
Reps for Heard did not answer Friday’s request for comment on Depp’s notice of appeal.
This sort of checkmate is just the latest legal interaction between the Rum Diary co-stars since their short-lived marriage ended in 2016 amid allegations of abuse, a temporary restraining order against Depp, and a media-feeding frenzy.
In March 2019, Depp sued his wife Heard for $50 million over an opinion piece she wrote for the Washington Post in late 2018 about becoming “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Even though the article was written by the ACLU and published in a newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos, it never mentioned Depp by name, he said it “destroyed” his already fading blockbuster career. Depp has now said that he was the one who was abused in the relationship, even though he didn’t say anything about it during the couple’s divorce in 2016 or when he testified in the Virginia trial.
Heard it sued for $100 million two years ago after failing over and over to get the case thrown out or moved out of Virginia before the trial began. This happened months before Depp’s UK libel case against The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife beater” failed.
Heard testified under oath at the trial earlier this year that Depp sexually assaulted her several times and hurt her physically and mentally while they were together. A claim that the actor strongly denied when he testified later.
Depp’s notice of appeal and Heard’s from Thursday come just over a week after Azcarate turned down an ambitious plan by Heard’s team, led by Elaine Bredehoft, to overturn the $10.3 million verdict and award in Depp’s favor and start a whole new trial. The lawyers for Depp at Brown Rudnick said that the effort had no basis and was pointless.
Even though Heard’s lawyers said that it seems like the wrong person was put on the jury, Azcarate told them to go away on July 13. “The juror was screened, sat for the whole jury, talked with the other jurors, and came to a decision,” said the Fairfax County judge who oversaw the trial that began in mid-April. “The only proof this Court has is that this juror and all the other jurors kept their oaths and did what the Court told them to do. This Court has to follow what the jury decided if it was right.”