Amber Heard Hires New Heavy Hitter Lawyers Ahead of Johnny Depp Trial Verdict Appeal
Heard's new legal team will feature David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of Ballard Spahr as her lead appellate counsel. The pair previously successfully defended The New York Times in Sarah Palin's defamation suit against the media outlet.
"We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American," Axelrod and Brown said in a joint statement. "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."
Additionally, Ben Rottenborn of Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black will continue to be Heard's co-counsel. However, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft of Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Nadelhaft has stepped down.
"This is the perfect time to pass the baton," Bredehoft stated. "I have pledged to Amber and her appellate team my complete cooperation and assistance as they move forward on a path towards success."
The Aquaman actress filed the paperwork to officially appeal the jury's unanimous verdict, which found that Heard defamed Depp and awarded him over $10 million in damages while they also found that Depp's attorney defamed Heard and required the actor to pay $2 million to her. Meanwhile, the Pirates of the Caribbean star filed an appeal for the $2 million verdict.
"We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment," Heard's spokesperson told Entertainment Tonight. "We are therefore appealing the verdict. While we realize today's filing will ignite the Twitter bonfires, there are steps we need to take to ensure both fairness and justice."
"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," Depp's team later said in a statement.
A source close to Depp previously told PEOPLE that he "believes that this is a time for both parties to move on with their lives and heal." They continued, "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."
In March 2019, Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard for her Washington Post op-ed that she wrote about being the victim of domestic violence (Depp was not specifically named in the article). Her allegations came out during their 2016 divorce trial against him.