Amber Heard’s legal team is getting a shakeup.
The actress hired attorneys David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of the Ballard Spahr law firm to represent her as she appeals the ruling in Johnny Depp’s defamation case. They replace attorney Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, who represented Heard during the trial.
Jurors sided with Depp in June at the end of the six-week trial in Virginia, awarding him more than US$10mil after he sued his ex-wife Heard for defamation over an op-ed in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.
Heard didn’t name Depp in the piece, but had previously accused him of domestic violence.
“When it comes to protecting the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech, we look at the jury’s decision — to paraphrase a famous quote — not ‘as the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning,’ ” a representative for Heard said in a statement Monday (Aug 15).
“A different court warrants different representation, particularly as so much new evidence is now coming to light.”
Axelrod, a partner based in Pennsylvania, and Ward Brown, a partner based in Washington, DC, represented The New York Times in the newspaper’s win over Sarah Palin in a libel lawsuit.
“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 Ward 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.”
Fellow attorney Ben Rottenborn, who represented Heard during the trial, will also be part of her appeal efforts.
Bredehoft spoke about Heard’s intentions to appeal soon after the jury’s decision, contending on NBC’s Today show that the court allowed “a number of things” that shouldn’t have been permitted.
“(Depp’s attorneys) were able to suppress the medical records, which were very, very significant because they showed a pattern going all the way back to 2012 of Amber reporting this to her therapist, for example,” Bredehoft said at the time.
“We had significant amount of texts, including from Mr Depp’s assistants saying, ‘When I told him he kicked you, he cried.’”
Depp, 58, and Heard, 36, married in 2015. Heard filed for divorce a little over a year later. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service