Amber Heard files to appeal Johnny Depp verdict: 'We believe the court made errors'

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read
Amber Heard, here with her lawyers, is appealing the June 1 verdict in Johnny Depp defamation case.
Amber Heard, here with her lawyers, is appealing the June 1 verdict in Johnny Depp defamation case. (Photo: Reuters)

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp's courtroom showdown isn't over just yet. On Thursday, the actress officially notified the court that she plans to appeal the verdict.

"We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment," a spokesperson for Heard tells Yahoo Entertainment. "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."

Depp's team doesn't seem concerned the verdict will be overturned.

"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 tells Yahoo. "We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand."

Depp sued Heard for $50 million claiming she defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being the survivor of sexual and domestic violence. The jury overwhelmingly agreed, siding with the Pirates of the Caribbean star on all three claims. Depp was ultimately awarded $10.35 million in damages. Heard was awarded $2 million over one defamatory statement Depp's lawyer made to the press, but lost two of her other counterclaims.

Last month, Judge Penney Azcarate told Heard's legal team the actress must pay the $8.35 million judgment with 6% interest per year for any appeal to formally move forward. Heard has not yet paid the sum and her attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, previously said her client doesn't have the money. Heard only had to pay $500 to start the process. It's unclear how the rest will be paid.

On Thursday, Heard's team filed a three-page notice of appeal in Virginia court. The grounds for the appeal are not laid out in the document. Last week, Judge Azcarate ruled against Heard's motion for mistrial. The actress's team claimed there was an apparent case of mistaken identity with Juror 15, but the judge declared "there is no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing."

Legal experts don't believe Heard will win her appeal.

Andres Munoz, litigation Partner with Romano Law, tells Yahoo "this appeal is a Hail Mary attempt to get the verdict overturned. And, it's incredibly unlikely to be successful.

"To win this appeal, Heard will have to establish to the appellate court that the verdict was 'plainly wrong' or was 'without evidence to support it' — an extremely high legal standard to meet. An added challenge for Heard is that the appellate court must review the evidence 'in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,' thereby giving Depp the benefit of the doubt on all evidentiary matters," he explains.

Legal analyst Emily D. Baker also notes that appeals are "generally unsuccessful."

"It will be interesting to see what rulings or legal theories Heard's team puts forth; so far, they have been wholly unsuccessful in their post-trial motions. Interestingly Amber Heard's team keeps arguing that the jury verdict is inconsistent with the First Amendment. However, defamation isn't protected speech, and the jury decisively found Heard’s statements defamatory," she adds.

Baker notes that it's also "still possible" that Depp will file a notice of appeal as he lost one count of defamation. He must do so before Sunday, July 24.

MORE: Monica Lewinsky weighs in on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's trial: "We are guilty"

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