As Amber Heard and Johnny Depp both are preparing to appeal the verdict in their defamation lawsuit, a The newly unsealed discharge of documents has reignited the frenzy of the high-profile trial
The chaos around the six-week trial – which Depp specifically asked to be televised – was almost unprecedented, even taking into account that people would understandably be interested in two high-profile actors airing their dirty laundry. Depp had emerged victorious in the court of public opinion even before the verdict was delivered, with fans lined up outside the Virginia courthouse hoping to get a wave of the Pirates of the Caribbean actor.
But two months after the trial concluded, Depp fans and inquisitive minds are still eager to consume all things related to the case. So much so that last weekend they helped raise over $10,000 in a matter of hours to fund the $3,300 cost of the newly unsealed trial documents.
While an initial analysis of the release of documents – more than 6,600 pages – does not appear to be doing Depp any favors, four legal experts say rolling stone that what people see are all the explosive allegations and potentially embarrassing claims that Depp’s lawyers managed to keep out of the trial.
“Absolutely, it was worse for Johnny,” said Brett Ward, a New York family attorney. “Johnny Depp’s team won some key pre-trial legal decisions. Overall, because he had better decisions during the pre-trial part of the case, the things he kept hurt him more. The entire hardware now looks worse to him.
“I think it would have been naïve for anyone to think that all of these motions were only going to have flattering things for Johnny Depp and unflattering things for Amber Heard,” said legal analyst Emily D. Baker. “I always expected both sides to kick each other in the mud because that’s what pre-trial motions are.”
“People have an idea about the two of them after this trial,” adds entertainment and media lawyer Dan Rozansky. “From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t know if anything is really moving the needle in terms of changing public perception.”
Andrea Burkhart, a Washington state lawyer who had attracted 50,000 YouTube subscribers through content mostly devoted to trial coverage, raised the funds in asking her Twitter followers to participate so she can purchase the materials. (Burkhart said in a statement provided to rolling stone that she donated $7,000 in remaining funds to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Art of Elysium.)
Judge Penney Azcarate ordered all previously sealed documents to be unsealed last month, essentially opening the floodgates to all the explosive allegations both sides had tried to include in the lawsuit. “In this case, both sides sued each other, opening up the public forum of a jury trial. Court records are public information,” Azcarate wrote.
The trove of documents mostly contains pre-trial discovery motions, where each side argued over what would be allowed in the lawsuit, with Depp winning several key points of contention, including the omission of details about his friendship with the shock rocker. Marilyn Manson.
Beyond his alleged drug use with Manson, Heard’s team had attempted to extract more texts from men, where Manson called his current wife an “Amber 2.0,” according to the documents. Depp’s team had wanted to keep any mention of Manson out of the case, referring to the serious physical and sexual abuse allegations against the musician, saying Heard was trying to ‘smear Mr. Depp under a guilty-by-association theory’ .
The court documents also gave more insight into Depp’s strained relationship with Disney even before the studio let him down. Pirates of the Caribbean 6 in 2018. Her former agent Tracey Jacobs testified in a deposition that a Disney executive called her when Depp allegedly appeared on TV “drunk and stoned” and asked, “What was wrong not with your client?”
Jacobs eventually testified to Depp’s conduct, as did his ex-girlfriend Ellen Barkin who spoke in court about Depp’s alleged drug use during their relationship in the late 1990s. But a claim that she made in a 2019 deposition about Depp allegedly gave him a Quaalude the first time they made lovenever found his way to court, according to unsealed documents.
“He came up to me in the living room of my house, pulled me into his lap, and said something like, ‘Oh, come on Ellen,’ or whatever,” Barkin said in his deposition. “I protested a bit and then, not too much. And that was it. Later adding, “He gave me a Quaalude and asked me if I wanted to fuck.”
The documents show that Depp’s team tried to get the judge to approve the use of nude photos of Heard and highlight her background as an exotic dancer, while Heard tried to refer to Depp’s medication to suggest that he suffered from erectile dysfunction.
The release of information regarding Depp’s alleged medication surprised Baker, who followed the trial closely on his YouTube channelJudge Azcarate having kept under seal the personal information of both parties, including their medical history.
Los Angeles attorney Ryan Baker said Depp’s team appeared to have the upper hand due to clever legal maneuvers, such as Depp’s team fighting hard in preliminary motions against him being subjected to a psychiatric evaluation, which Heard had done.
“Amber Heard made emotional distress or post-traumatic stress an issue in the case, because she made it an issue, she had to submit to a psychiatric evaluation,” he says, referring to a clinical psychologist testifying that she diagnosed Heard with borderline personality disorder. “It’s quite overwhelming. Then you wait for the other person to stand up and say [something] about johnny depp but johnny depp was never evaluated because he never had to submit because he didn’t have emotional distress or post traumatic stress any kind of problem in the affair.
The same goes for Heard’s team accusing Depp of “editing” photos of his bruises and handing over chopped up snippets of audio recordings. During the trial, court heard how actress allegedly edited footage of her injuries – but claims that Depp would do the same have never had the same success. Texts between Heard and former Depp assistant Stephen Deuters about Depp allegedly ‘cutting’ Heard in 2014 were not allowed to appear in court, despite exchange used in failed libel suit by Depp against the British tabloid The sun.
Each of those victories played a part in how Depp’s team managed to shape the case to their advantage months before they went to trial. “A lot of court cases usually come down to the quality of legal representation,” says Ward. “I think they both had very good reputations, but I think some of the parolees went the way of Johnny Depp who helped him.”
Baker offers that Heard’s team won big victories by keeping details of more damaging testimony and statements out of court, including from Jennifer Howell and Heard’s sister, Whitney, noting that those details were “tightly and narrowly limited”.
All the lawyers agree that the fight between Heard and Depp will drag on forever, as both have informed the court that they plan to appeal their respective verdicts, with the likely possibility that Heard will use some of his pre-trial discovery. which was not part of the lawsuit as part of its basis of appeal.
Already, Heard complained that she had a “binder of years of notes dating back to 2011 from the very beginning of my relationship that were taken by my doctor, to whom I reported the abuse” that were ruled inadmissible at the court case. “How could they pass judgment, how could they not come to that conclusion,” Heard said of the jury’s decision.
Both sides have until September 5 to file their formal appeals, with their compensation payments on hold until they know whether their appeals go ahead. Heard made it clear she couldn’t afford to pay Depp the $10 million in damagesrecently sold his California home.
Reveling in his redemption, Depp joined TikTok and toured with Jeff Beck to promote their new joint album 18. Still, there have been no signs of an official Depp return to the acting front. “It may not be over in the court of public opinion, more importantly in the opinion of [Depp’s] employers,” says Rozansky.