Amber Heard has new attorneys for her latest legal fight.
Less than a month after filing a motion to appeal the verdict in her ex-husband Johnny Depp‘s defamation case against her, the actress has hired Ballard Spahr as her lead appellate counsel.
Heard’s legal team will be led by David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown, who previously defended the New York Times against Sarah Palin‘s defamation lawsuit earlier this year.
“We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American,” the attorneys said in a joint statement to E! News. “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.”
Ben Rottenborn will continue to represent Heard as co-counsel following her summer defamation trial. However, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft announced that she will be stepping down from the case.
Viral Moments From Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial
“This is the perfect time to pass the baton,” she said in a statement to E! News. “I have pledged to Amber and her appellate team my complete cooperation and assistance as they move forward on a path towards success.”
As for why Heard has chosen to hire additional lawyers for her expected appeal, her spokesperson provided some reasoning.
“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,'” Heard’s spokesperson said in a statement to E! News. “A different court warrants different representation, particularly as so much new evidence is now coming to light.”
E! News has reached out to Depp’s team for comment.
On July 1, a Virginia jury reached a verdict in Depp and Heard’s defamation trial. After nearly six weeks of testimony, the jury ruled that Heard was liable of defaming Depp and awarded $10 million to the actor in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate later reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, which is the state’s statutory cap or legal limit, making his total damages less than $10.4 million.
As for Heard’s countersuit, the jury awarded the actress $2 million in compensatory damages.
Just on TikTok, pro-Johnny Depp hashtags generated hundreds of times more views compared to pro-Amber Heard hashtags during their recent defamation trial. Going forward, the legal system should beware of the social media fervor that surrounded Depp in this case and the incentives that rewarded creators pivoting to pro-Depp content. NBC News tech and culture reporter Kat Tenbarge explains, and we hear clips from Heard’s upcoming interview with Dateline NBC.
On July 22, however, Depp filed a notice of appeal seeking to overturn the $2 million verdict awarded to Heard during the couple’s defamation trial.
“This was an overwhelmingly positive verdict for Mr. Depp,” Depp’s representatives said in a statement to E! News. “The verdict speaks for itself, and Mr. Depp believes that this is a time for both parties to move on with their lives and heal. But if Ms. Heard is determined to pursue further litigation by appealing the verdict, Mr. Depp is filing a concurrent appeal to ensure that the full record and all relevant legal issues are considered by the Court of Appeal.”
Heard’s plans to appeal comes after Judge Azcarate rejected the actress’ argument that she was not given a fair trial after one juror allegedly served on the jury without being summoned, citing there has been “no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing” that warrants a mistrial.
Christina Ricci is looking back at the important conversation she had with Johnny Depp when she was just 9 years old. While making an appearance on SiriusXM’s “Andy Cohen Live,” the actress opened up about learning what homosexuality was when she starred in the 1990 classic movie “Mermaids” alongside Cher and Johnny’s then-girlfriend, Winona Ryder.