Amber Heard appeal alleges myriad errors in defamation trial

Amber Heard has officially appealed the decision in the defamation case brought by Johnny Depp, with her attorneys citing numerous errors they say were made during the trial, including allowing the case in Virginia and refusing to open communications between Heard and certain doctors to be admitted as evidence.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in June – the latter reduced to $350,000 under Virginia law – after Heard was sued in a was found liable for defaming him in an essay published by Washington Post. Heard, who had filed a counterclaim, was simultaneously awarded $2 million after the jury found Depp responsible for a comment his then-attorney Adam Waldman made about Heard.

Heard’s appeal was filed with the Virginia Court of Appeals on November 23.

Depp originally sued the “Aquaman” actor for $50 million in March 2019, alleging that an essay published by The Washington Post — whose servers are in Virginia — labeled him a perpetrator of “sexual violence” and valued him tens of thousands Millions of dollars in lost labor cost.

She sued for $100 million in the summer of 2020, though attorney Elaine Bredehoft later said that Heard didn’t want that much money, but wanted to send a message to her former husband.

In the appeal, Heard’s legal team contends that California was the only appropriate place for the trial, noting that Virginia was a “completely unfavorable forum” for the case, with “both parties and most of the factual witnesses … California residents, with none of it in Virginia.”

The appeal alleges errors of evidence were made, including disqualifying the November 2020 decision in the UK defamation case that Depp unsuccessfully brought against the Sun, who had called him a “wife beater”. The complaint alleges that irrelevant and prejudicial evidence was admitted, while third-party communications allegedly leading to the emotional states of both parties — including Heard’s communications with medical staff — were barred.

Among other allegations in the appeal: Depp’s legal team allegedly failed to prove “actual malice”; the jury was misinformed about the role of actual malice in the case; Heard did not write the online version of the headline discussed in court; the award was exaggerated; and the essay itself, which failed to mention Depp by name, “failed to convey a defamatory implication.”

While both parties filed initial appeal papers in July, Depp’s detailed filing didn’t come until early November. Now that Heard’s detailed file is also available, the case is moving to a three-person appeals court for a decision.

If either Depp or Heard are not satisfied with the appeals court’s decision, they can petition the Virginia Supreme Court.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-12-05/amber-heard-appeal-johnny-depp Amber Heard appeal alleges myriad errors in defamation trial

Sarah Ridley

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