Amber Heard officially appeals $10m defamation ruling against ex-husband Johnny Depp
Amber Heard has filed an appeal against the outcome of her defamation trial against ex-husband Johnny Depp.
According to Sky News, Heard’s legal team submitted documents to the Virginia Court of Appeals on Thursday (21 July), claiming errors in the trial had got in the way of a “just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment” being delivered.
Heard was ordered to pay Depp $10.35 million in damages in June after she was found to have defamed him in a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post.
Immediately, Heard confirmed that she would be appealing the ruling, saying that it had set the “back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated”.
The lengthy trial attracted intense media speculation, with court sessions live-streamed to millions. Heard, as a result, became the target of intense vitriol.
Heard’s spokesperson acknowledged that by filing the appeal, the actor expected to “ignite the Twitter bonfires”.
However, they added: “There are steps we need to take to ensure both fairness and justice.”
Depp filed his defamation suit in 2019, claiming Heard’s allegations of abuse were an “elaborate hoax” that cost him his career and damaged his reputation. Heard filed her own suit against Depp, seeking $100 million in damages.
The bitter trial at Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia saw Depp accused of sexually assaulting Heard and texting a friend saying that he hoped “Amber Heard’s rotting corpse was decomposing” in the trunk of a car.
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Depp denied hitting Heard, stating that he would “never strike a woman”, and denied the sexual assault claim.
A jury found that Heard defamed Depp with malice. It also found in favour of one of Heard’s claims, relating to Depp’s lawyer describing her abuse allegations as a “hoax”, and she was awarded $2 million.
After the ruling in June, Heard said in a statement: “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
A spokesperson for Depp said in a statement on the appeal: “The jury listened to the extensive evidence presented during the six-week trial and came to a clear and unanimous verdict that the defendant herself defamed Mr Depp in multiple instances.
“We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”