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Amber Heard formally appeals Johnny Depp trial verdict

Heard's appeal arrives just under a month after Depp also appealed the verdict, calling the $2 million awarded to Heard "erroneous"

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Amber Heard
Amber Heard
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Amber Heard has formally appealed the verdict in her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s long-running Virginia defamation suit against her. Heard’s filing arrives just under a month after Depp—despite his win in court—also appealed the verdict, calling the $2 million awarded to Heard “erroneous.”

Heard’s counter appeal, filed formally November 23 by her lawyers Jay Ward Brown and David L. Axelrod, also implicates erroneous actions from the courts. The case ended in a verdict nearly entirely in Depp’s favor on June 1— Heard’s appeal seeks to either reverse the $10-million-plus verdict against her or have it tossed out for a new trial.

“The trial court erroneously refused to dismiss this action on the ground of forum non conveniens, based on its mistaken conclusion that Depp’s claims arose in Virginia because the Washington Post’s servers are located here,” Brown and Axelrod share in Heard’s latest appeal, obtained by Deadline. “The trial court also erred in overruling Heard’s demurrer, in which she argued that the challenged statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion and are not reasonably capable of conveying the alleged defamatory implication.”

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Depp’s original lawsuit hinged on a 2018 Washington Post article under Heard’s byline, where the actor identified herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although Heard never mentioned Depp’s name in the piece, Depp sued her for nearly $50 million in March 2019, alleging that the op-ed “devastated” his career.

Heard’s appeal also cites Depp’s U.K. libel lawsuit against The Sun, which Depp brought in 2018 after the British tabloid called him a “wife beater.” Depp ultimately lost the suit after a judge found that The Sun proved their statement to be “substantially true.” The U.K. court ultimately found that 12 out of 14 alleged instances of Depp’s domestic abuse to have occurred.

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“This case also should never have gone to trial because another court had already concluded that Depp abused Heard on multiple occasions,” Heard’s 68-page appeal notes of the case. “After Depp filed this case, the United Kingdom High Court of Justice ruled in a separate defamation action brought by Depp that Heard’s abuse allegations were true.”

Heard’s team further argues that the verdict, “if allowed to stand, undoubtedly will have a chilling effect on other women who wish to speak about abuse involving powerful men.”

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Depp’s own appeal, filed by his layers Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez in early November, argues that the courts “erred in denying Mr. Depp’s Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Strike because Ms. Heard failed to present evidence to establish one of the required elements of defamation. Specifically, Ms. Heard failed to present evidence that Mr. Waldman acted with actual malice when he made the April 27 Statement.”

After the appeals are heard in Virginia, judges will now decide which argument stands. If it comes to it, Heard and Depp are respectively able to bring the matter before the Supreme Court, which would usher in a trial that could span years.