Amber Heard Hires New Lawyers for Johnny Depp Appeal: 'Different Court Warrants Different Representation'

·3 min read
Amber Heard Hires New Lawyers for Johnny Depp Appeal: 'Different Court Warrants Different Representation'

Amber Heard is switching legal counsel going into her appeal of the Johnny Depp defamation trial verdict.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the 36-year-old actress announced that she hired David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of Ballard Spahr to lead, with Ben Rottenborn continuing as co-counsel. Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, who represented Heard in the six-week Fairfax County, Virginia, trial earlier this year is stepping down.

"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 different court warrants different representation, particularly as so much new evidence is now coming to light," a spokesperson for Heard said in a statement.

Said Bredehoft, "This is the perfect time to pass the baton. I have pledged to Amber and her appellate team my complete cooperation and assistance as they move forward on a path towards success."

Amber Heard stands with her lawyers Elaine Bredehoft and Benjamin Rottenborn before the jury said that they believe she defamed ex-husband Johnny Depp while announcing split verdicts in favor of both her ex-husband Johnny Depp and Heard on their claim and counter-claim in the Depp v. Heard civil defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse
Amber Heard stands with her lawyers Elaine Bredehoft and Benjamin Rottenborn before the jury said that they believe she defamed ex-husband Johnny Depp while announcing split verdicts in favor of both her ex-husband Johnny Depp and Heard on their claim and counter-claim in the Depp v. Heard civil defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty

Attorneys Axelrod and Brown successfully defended The New York Times against Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit earlier this year.

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They said in a joint statement, "We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American. 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."

RELATED: Johnny Depp's Lawyer Says Actor Filed His Own Appeal After Amber Heard's to 'Protect His Interests'

US actress Amber Heard talks to her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft
US actress Amber Heard talks to her lawyer Elaine Bredehoft

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

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On June 1, the seven-person jury handed down its verdict, siding mostly with Heard's ex-husband Depp, 59, finding that she defamed him in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence, though she didn't mention him by name. He was awarded more than $10 million in damages. Heard, meanwhile, won one of her three defamation countersuit claims and was awarded $2 million.

Judge Penney Azcarate denied Heard's request for a mistrial, and after Heard officially appealed the verdict, Depp's legal team announced that they would also be appealing her countersuit verdict.

A source close to Depp said it was an "overwhelmingly positive verdict" for the actor, who "believes that this is a time for both parties to move on with their lives and heal." The source added, "But if Ms. Heard is determined to pursue further litigation by appealing the verdict, Mr. Depp is filing a concurrent appeal to ensure that the full record and all relevant legal issues are considered by the Court of Appeal."

RELATED VIDEO: Juror in Johnny Depp Defamation Trial Says Jury Didn't Believe Amber Heard's 'Crocodile Tears'

In a statement last month about moving forward with the appeal — which will require Heard to post a bond of the full damages amount she owes — a spokesperson for Heard said they "believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment."

"We are therefore appealing the verdict," they added. "While we realize today's filing will ignite the Twitter bonfires, there are steps we need to take to ensure both fairness and justice."

Responding to the development, a Depp spokesperson then said in a statement: "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. We remain confident in our case and that this verdict will stand."