Entertainment

Johnny Depp Fans Paid Thousands for New Court Docs. Did It Backfire?

U.S. actor Johnny Depp leaves the Fairfax Circuit Court on May 26, 2022, in Fairfax, Va. The jury has entered deliberations in the defamation lawsuit filed by U.S. actor Johnny Depp against his former wife, U.S. actress Amber Heard, after she wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2018 that, without naming Depp, accused him of domestic abuse. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

As Amber Heard and Johnny Depp both prepare to appeal the verdict in their muddy libel lawsuit, a newly unlocked document depot sparked the frenzy over the much-discussed lawsuit

The chaos surrounding the six-week trial — which Depp specifically requested to be televised — was almost unprecedented, even taking into account that people would of course be interested in two high-profile actors airing their dirty laundry outside. Depp was the winner in the public opinion court even before the verdict, with fans stationed outside the Virginia courthouse hoping to get a wave of the pirates of the caribbean actor.

But two months after the trial’s conclusion, Depp fans and curious minds are still eager to consume anything related to the case. So much so that last weekend they raised more than $10,000 in just hours to fund the $3,300 cost of recently unsealed trial documents.

While an initial analysis of the document dump — more than 6,600 pages — doesn’t seem to do Depp any good, four legal experts tell rolling stone that what people are seeing are all the explosive allegations and potentially embarrassing allegations that Depp’s lawyers have successfully kept out of trial.

“Absolutely, it was worse for Johnny,” said Brett Ward, a family attorney in New York. “Johnny Depp’s team has won a number of important legal rulings in the preliminary investigation. In general, because he had better statements during the preliminary investigation of the case, the things he kept out hurt him more. The totality of the material now looks worse for him.”

“I think it would have been naive for anyone to think that all these motions would only bring flattering things to Johnny Depp and unflattering things to Amber Heard,” said legal analyst Emily D. Baker. “I always expected both sides to sling mud at each other because those are moves for the process.”

“People have made up their minds about the two of them after that process,” adds attorney Dan Rozansky, entertainment and media disputes. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t know if anything is really moving the needle in terms of changing public perception.”

Andrea Burkhart, a Washington state attorney who had amassed 50,000 YouTube subscribers with content primarily devoted to beating the trial, raised the money by asked her Twitter followers to join in so she could buy the documents. (Burkhart said in a statement: rolling stone that she donated $7,000 in leftover funds to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Art of Elysium.)

Judge Penney Azcarate last month ordered that all previously sealed documents be unsealed, effectively opening the floodgates to all the explosive charges that both sides had tried to include in the trial. “In this case, both litigants sued each other, opening themselves up to the public forum of a jury trial. Court records are public information,” Azcarate wrote.

The trove of papers mainly features preliminary exploration moves, with both sides battling it out over what would be allowed in the process, with Depp winning several major points of contention, including omitting details about his friendship with shock rocker Marilyn Manson.

In addition to his alleged drug use with Manson, Heard’s team had tried to get more male texts in which Manson called his current wife an “Amber 2.0,” according to the documents. Depp’s team had wanted to keep all mention of Manson out of the case, citing the serious claims of physical and sexual abuse against the musician, alleging that Heard was trying to “smear Mr. Depp with a culprit through association theory.”

The court papers also provided more insight into Depp’s strained relationship with Disney, even before the studio dropped him Pirates of the Caribbean 6 in 2018. His former agent Tracey Jacobs testified in a statement that a Disney executive called her when Depp reportedly appeared on TV “drunk and stoned” and asked her, “What the hell was wrong with your client?”

Jacobs eventually testified about Depp’s behavior, as did his ex-girlfriend Ellen Barkin, who told the court about Depp’s alleged drug use during their relationship in the late 1990s. But a claim she made in a 2019 statement about Depp allegedly giving her a Quaalude the first time they had sex never made its way to court, according to the unsealed files.

“He came up to me in the living room of my house, pulled me onto his lap and said something like, ‘Oh, come on Ellen,’ or whatever,” Barkin said in her statement. “I protested a little and then, not too much. And that was that.” He later added, “He gave me a Quaalude and asked me if I wanted to fuck.”

The files show that Depp’s team had tried to get the judge to agree to the use of nude photos of Heard and her past as an exotic dancer, while Heard had tried to refer to Depp’s drugs to suggest that he had erectile dysfunction.

The disclosure of information about Depp’s alleged drugs was surprising to Baker, who had been closely following the trial on her YouTube channel, as Judge Azcarate had kept both parties’ personal information, including their medical histories, secret.

Los Angeles attorney Ryan Baker says Depp’s team seemed to have the upper hand because of clever legal maneuvers, such as Depp’s team fighting hard in pre-trials to get him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, which Heard had done. .

“Amber Heard made emotional distress or post-traumatic stress a problem in the case. Because she made that a problem, she had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation,” he says, referring to a clinical psychologist who testified that she had been diagnosed with Heard with borderline personality disorder. “That’s pretty damning. Then you wait for the other person to stand up and say: [something] about Johnny Depp, but Johnny Depp was never evaluated because he never had to file because he had no problem with emotional stress or post-traumatic stress on the case.”

The same goes for Heard’s team accusing Depp of “modifying” photos of his bruises and handing over snippets of chopped audio recordings. During the trial, the court heard how the actress allegedly edited footage of her injuries, but claims that Depp did the same never gained the same traction. Texts between Heard and Depp’s former assistant Stephen Deuters about Depp allegedly “kicking” Heard in 2014 were not allowed in court, despite the exchange being used in Depp’s botched libel lawsuit against the British tabloid The sun.

Each of these wins played a part in how Depp’s team was able to successfully shape the case in their favor months before starting the trial. “A lot of lawsuits generally come down to the quality of legal representation,” Ward says. “I think they both had very good reputations, but I think some pre-trial releases went Johnny Depp’s way that helped him.”

Baker offers that Heard’s team has had some big wins by keeping details of more damaging testimony and statements out of court, including from Jennifer Howell and Heard’s sister Whitney, noting that those details were “tight and narrowly contained” .

All lawyers agree that the battle between Heard and Depp will drag on as both have informed the court that they intend to appeal their respective verdicts, with the likely possibility that Heard will use some of her preliminary investigations. that did not end up in the process. part of her grounds for an appeal.

Heard has already complained that she had a “folder of years of notes dating back to 2011 from the very beginning of my relationship that were made by my doctor, to whom I reported the abuse” that were deemed inadmissible at trial. “How could they pass a verdict, how could they not come to that conclusion,” Heard said of the jury’s decision.

Both parties have until September 5 to file their official appeals, with their pay suspended until they know whether their appeals will go through. Heard has made it clear that she cannot pay Depp the $10 million in damages by recently selling her home in California.

Depp, enjoying his release, has joined TikTok and has gone on tour with Jeff Beck to promote their new collaborative album 18. Still, there are no signs of an official comeback for Depp on the acting front. “This may not be over in the court of public opinion, more importantly in the mind of” [Depp’s] employers,” says Rozansky.