Depp lawsuit dives into Heard’s mind at the center of the case

FAIRFAX, Va. After three weeks into the defamation trial of Johnny Depp in Fairfax County, which spent days giving intimate details about his tumultuous relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard, jurors were finally told on Thursday about the central part of his case. Heard’s 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post.

In one paragraph, Heard wrote, “Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and I felt the full force of our culture’s anger at women who speak out.” Depp, 58, says the op-ed hurt his career, even though Heard didn’t name him; he has denied all claims of abuse and has sued her for $50 million for defamation.

Subscribe to The Post Most’s newsletter for the most important and interesting stories from The Washington Post.

Heard, 36, sued Depp for $100 million after his attorney called her allegations a hoax. Her lawyers have said the opinion is not only true, but is protected by the First Amendment. The trial is taking place in Fairfax County because The Post, which is not a defendant, houses its printing press and online server in Virginia.

Video: Opening statements in defamation Johnny Depp-Amber Heard case

Jurors heard video testimony from Terence Dougherty, general counsel and chief operating officer at the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2016, after a $7 million divorce settlement with Depp, Heard said she would donate half of the money to the ACLU and the other half to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dougherty testified. In October 2018, she became an ACLU Ambassador, a title she still holds; Dougherty pointed to a page on the organization’s website that describes her as an ambassador “for women’s rights, with a focus on gender-based violence”.

Dougherty went over the details of how the op-ed was published, while Benjamin Chew, one of the attorneys representing Depp, referred to various exhibits and documents. In November 2018, Dougherty said, an ACLU communications strategist sent an email to the publicist for Heard and others saying, “I’d like you and Amber to create an op-ed discussing how survivors of gender-based violence under the government– Trump are made less safe and how people can take action.”

Dougherty, who had been called to testify by Depp’s lawyers, agreed with Chew that Heard should be free to choose how much personal information she wanted to share. He explained that the strategist’s goal was to think about potential topics of policy interest to the ACLU that could be part of an op-ed, and how they would fit into Heard’s role as ambassador.

Further correspondence, Dougherty confirmed, revealed that an ACLU employee had met Heard, who agreed to let ACLU communications officers write the first draft of the op-ed. Dougherty also confirmed that a staffer sent the first draft to Heard, writing, “I’ve tried to collect your fire and anger and really interesting analysis and turn it into an op-ed.” Depp’s lawyer questioned whether the reference to Heard’s “anger” was about Depp’s alleged abuse, though Dougherty said he interpreted it as anger over gender issues in general.

There was also a lot of back and forth between the ACLU and representatives from Heard and the legal team, Dougherty said. At one point, the staffer who drafted the op-ed wrote, “Your lawyers should rethink how I walked around talking about your marriage.” Dougherty, who said he hadn’t seen the op-ed in person before it was published but that it had been reviewed by four ACLU attorneys, said they wanted to make sure nothing put Heard at risk for violating a nondisclosure agreement she signed. her divorce settlement was signed with Depp.

Depp’s attorney, Chew, asked if it was true that Heard’s team revised the draft to remove references to Heard’s marriage or divorce, and Dougherty recalled that there was some communication between the ACLU and Heard’s attorneys. proposing corrections to matters dealt with in the NDA. Dougherty agreed with Chew that some at the ACLU said removing the references to Heard’s marriage to Depp would make the opinion “less impactful,” but said he didn’t remember Heard’s insistence on getting that material back in. .

The ACLU took responsibility for posting the opinion, Dougherty said, and after speaking with Heard, the communications strategist suggested pitching the piece to the New York Times, Washington Post, Teen Vogue and USA Today. There was also a discussion about the timing for the December 2018 release of “Aquaman” starring Heard alongside Jason Momoa.

Heard was on the cusp of receiving “an incredible amount of press” in the public eye, Dougherty noted, so there was no better time for the ACLU to spread the word in front of a sizable readership to learn more about the causes of the organisation. Dougherty said he believed Heard’s public relations team was involved in talks about timing.

An ACLU employee contacted several of The Post’s opinion editors, Dougherty said, and The Post agreed to publish the piece. Depp’s attorney asked about the headline of the online version (“Amber Heard: I spoke out against sexual assault – and faced the wrath of our culture. That has to change.”) Dougherty said he wasn’t sure if the ACLU had a role had when writing it.

Depp’s attorney forwarded an email from an ACLU employee who referenced a subsequent USA Today opinion article linking Heard’s statements to Depp, and the employee wrote, “So much for not mentioning JD.” Dougherty speculated that this meant “significant efforts” had been made by Heard’s lawyers to remove references to her marriage, but people made the connection anyway.

During Dougherty’s testimony, there was much back and forth about Heard’s pledge to donate half of her divorce settlement — $3.5 million — to the ACLU. An initial proposed payment plan in 2016 said Heard would donate $350,000 each year, though Heard has donated only $1.3 million in total so far, according to documents; Dougherty said the last payment they received was towards the end of 2018, which is when they became aware that Heard was in financial trouble.

Dougherty said Heard made a payment of $350,000; Depp made a $100,000 payment on her behalf; Heard then made another $350,000 payment through a donor-advised fund; and $500,000 came from another donor-advised fund on behalf of Heard, which Dougherty said his staff believed came from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whom Heard was dating after she split from Depp.

During a brief cross-examination, Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft pointed out that there is no evidence that Heard does not intend to pay the full amount, and Dougherty agreed that there is no indication that Heard has decided to stop her donations.

related content

During this year’s Ramadan, many Muslims can finally gather in person

A rescue center in Ukraine has rescued hundreds of cats and dogs – and a lion

Ukrainian reservists shift from civilian life to battlefields in war zone

Leave a Comment