Close to two months after a Virginia jury handed the ex-Pirates of the Caribbean star a big win in his multimillion-dollar defamation trial against his ex-wife and Rum Diary co-star, Heard on Thursday officially informed the court that she plans to appeal the verdict.
“Please take notice that Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff Amber Laura Heard, pursuant to Rule 5:9 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, hereby gives Notice of her Appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals from this Court’s June 24, 2022 Final Judgment Order, the July 13, 2022 Order on Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff Amber Laura Beard’s Post-Trial Motions (“Post-Trial Motions Order”), and from all additional Orders and rulings by the Trial Court prior to the entry of the Final Judgment Order and Post-Trial Motions Order,” said the three-page filing in the Old Dominion (read it here).
At this point, Heard has not paid the $8.3 million bond required under Virginia law for her to conduct an appeal, as Judge Penney Azcarate curtly informed the actress’ legal team on June 24. While that fee will be required down the line, Heard only had to put up only $500 to begin the appeal process today.
Heard’s team has until September 4 to file their appeal.
In that vein, soon after the document from Heard head lawyer Elaine Bredehoft was placed in the court docket today, the Aquaman star’s PR team put out a supplementary statement.
“We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment,” a spokesperson for Heard told Deadline. “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.”
In the rules of the PR game that have been played almost since the moment Depp sued Heard for $50 million in March 2019 over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed the latter penned on domestic abuse, reps for Depp had their own statement at the ready.
“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 Depp spokesperson said this morning. “We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand.”
Today’s notice of appeal comes just days after Azcarate dismissed an ambitious attempt by Heard’s team to toss out the $10.3 million award and verdict in Depp’s favor and get a new trial. Depp’s Brown Rudnick lawyers called the effort “baseless” and “frivolous.”
Leaning into an example of the wrong person being seated on the seven-person jury, Heard’s lawyers came up short on July 13. “The juror was vetted, sat for the entire jury, deliberated, and reached a verdict,” said Fairfax County Judge Azcarate, who presided over the six-week trial that started in mid-April. “The only evidence before this Court is that this juror and all jurors followed their oaths, the Court’s instructions, and orders. This Court is bound by the competent decision of the jury.”
On June 1, an absent Depp was awarded $15 million in damages by the jury in his defamation case. That sum was almost immediately reduced to $10.35 million by Azcarate in accordance with the state of Virginia’s punitive damages limitations. While the jury found almost entirely for Depp in their verdict, they also oddly awarded Heard $2 million in damages out of her $100 million countersuit.
Today’s notice of appeal doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as Bredehoft has said in court and in the media almost from the moment the verdict came down that her “heartbroken” client was going to take another kick at the judicial can.