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Amber Heard files for appeal in Johnny Depp defamation case

In June, a jury awarded Depp approximately $10.4 million in damages, which Heard's lawyer told TODAY her client was "absolutely not” able to pay.
/ Source: TODAY

Amber Heard has filed a motion to appeal the ruling from her defamation trial with ex-husband Johnny Depp that awarded her former spouse $10.4 million in damages

Details from Depp and Heard’s marriage, which spanned from 2015 to 2017, came out in a highly publicized, six-week trial, which involved graphic testimony from both parties.

On Thursday, Heard, 36, submitted the notice of appeal to the Circuit Court of Fairfax County where the trial was held in Virginia in May.

In a statement shared with TODAY, a spokesperson for Heard said, “We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment. We are therefore appealing the verdict.”

The statement concluded, “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 appeal echoes a sentiment Heard said in a statement issued after the verdict was read on June 1: “I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”

Depp’s legal team issued a response after Heard’s appeal filing. 

“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,” a spokesperson for Depp wrote in a statement shared with TODAY. “We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”

Depp had sued Heard for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in 2018 where she described herself as “public figure representing domestic abuse.” 

Despite Depp not being named in the article, his legal team argued in a complaint filed in 2019 that it was a “clear implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser.” Depp denied all allegations of abuse.

Heard then countersued for $100 million after claiming Depp and his legal team defamed her by orchestrating a “smear campaign” to try to discredit her allegations, per the official complaint.

In June 2022, the jury unanimously decided that there was “clear and convincing evidence” indicating Heard acted with “actual malice” when she penned the op-ed, per court documents.

Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages for jobs and opportunities lost and $5 million in punitive damages, per NBC News

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, which is the state’s statutory cap or legal limit, making Depp’s total damages amount to $10.4 million, per court documents.

The jury also found one of Heard’s defamatory statements to be true and awarded her $2 million in damages as well.

A few weeks after the verdict, Heard gave an exclusive interview with TODAY’S Savannah Guthrie as part of a “Dateline” special. 

The “Aquaman” actor also said that she would not recant any of her allegations of physical and psychological abuse, which was part of her testimony. “To my dying day (I) will stand by every word of my testimony,” she said. 

On July 9, Heard’s legal team filed paperwork to request a mistrial, according to NBC News, saying that the wrong juror was seated during the defamation trial. Heard’s request for a mistrial was denied on July 13 by Judge Penney Azcarate, per E! News, who said in court documents she found “no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing.” 

During an appearance on TODAY after the trial concluded, Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, told Savannah Guthrie she believed her client was “demonized,” and that public support for Depp rendered the trial “lopsided.”

"There’s no way (the jury) couldn’t have been influenced by it, and it was horrible,” she said. “It really, really was lopsided." Bredehoft also told TODAY that Heard is “absolutely not” able to pay that much in damages to Depp.

After the verdict was read on June 1, Depp said in a statement given to TODAY that he was “at peace,” and that the jury had given him his “life back.”