Johnny Depp Update: Amber Heard's Lawyers Take on Actor's Defamation Allegation

Amber Heard's lawyers demanded that Johnny Depp's lawyers present evidence showing his career was hurt after Heard published an op-ed about being a domestic violence survivor. Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019 over the December 2018 Washington Post op-ed, claiming that his career has been hurt by Heard's claims, although she did not name him in the essay. The lawsuit was filed in Virginia, where the Post is published.

Attorneys for both actors were in Fairfax County, Virginia court on Friday to decide what documents would be needed as evidence, reports Courthouse News. One of Heard's lawyers, Benjamin Rottenbord, called Depp a "serial litigator" and he "needs to prove" that the op-ed hurt his career. Depp's attorneys denied Heard's allegations, with lawyer Benjamin Chew telling Chief Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate that "no other woman on the planet" has accused Depp of domestic violence.

Heard married Depp in February 2015 and filed for divorce in May 2016, at which point she was granted a temporary restraining order and accused him of being abusive during their relationship. The divorce was finalized in January 2017, with Depp agreeing to pay Heard a $7 million settlement, which she then pledged to donate to the ACLU and the children's Hospital Los Angeles. (In January 2021, Depp accused Heard of not making the donation. Her team said the donations were delayed because of the ongoing court battles between the two. A New York judge recently partially granted Depp a request, ruling that the ACLU needs to release documents confirming if Heard made the donation as she promised.)

In December 2018, Heard published an op-ed in the Washington Post about how being a victim of domestic violence impacted her career. She did not name Depp, but he filed the $50 million defamation suit against her, accusing her of being abusive during their relationship. He also claimed the op-ed resulted in him losing roles, pointing out that Disney announced plans to make a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without him. The case is set to go to trial in April 2022.

Before the trial begins though, Friday's hearing also saw Heard's attorneys asking for Depp's team to disclose which potential witnesses on Depp's list are either his employees or people who received gifts from him. "We're entitled to see what he paid them," Rottenborn said, notes Courthouse News. Azcarte ruled that witnesses will have to reveal if they received gifts of $5,000 or more, but Depp's employees could not disclose their salaries.

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Last month, Heard's attorneys tried to have the defamation case tossed for a third time. Azcarte is taking that motion under advisement. The first two attempts were turned down by the previous judge on the case, Chief Judge Bruce White, who is now retired.

In January 2018, Depp sued News Group Newspapers for libel in the U.K. after The Sun called him a "wife beater" in an article. In November 2020, the High Court of Justice ruled against Depp. The actor appealed the verdict but was rejected in March.