Johnny Depp has settled two big bucks lawsuits with two sets of former attorneys in the past month, but it may be quite a while before things get resolved in the ex-Pirates of the Caribbean star’s $50 million defamation action against Amber Heard.
Due to the apparent fact that Depp didn’t meet the November 15 deadline to produce all of the October court ordered records related to his drug and alcohol usage, judicial officials in Fairfax County, Virginia have granted a six-month postponement of the start of the jury trial between the once married Rum Diary co-stars. Instead of kicking off the three-week proceedings on February 3, 2020, the whole messy shebang will now commence on August 3 next year.
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Citing “good cause shown by both sides,” the regional calendar control judge on the eve of Thanksgiving agreed to the motion from the Aquaman star. It should be noted that Heard’s lawyers only wanted an additional 60 days not the approximately 180 days that they got in what already feels a bit like a never-ending endeavor.
An endeavor that runs the risk of bumping up against the August 15, 2020 starting European tour of the Hollywood Vampires, the supergroup Depp formed a few years ago with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. Those touring commitments that extend to the UK and Italy for next September could see Depp’s lawyers seek a shift in the trial start date themselves if math is any indication.
Married to Depp for less than two years and exiting the relationship in 2016 amidst a media frenzy, restraining orders and a $7 million payout that was donated to charity, Heard was hot by the multimillion lawsuit filed by by her former husband in March in Virginia over a Washington Post op-ed she penned late last year about domestic abuse – an article that never mentioned the actor by name, though Depp says it sullied his name, he was the one actually abused and the op-ed cost him a role in Disney’s planned Pirates reboot.
Now fighting to get the ex-business managers of Depp, who the litigious and excessive Hollywood Vampires guitarist sued for $25 million in 2017 before settling last year, to turn over what they know about the actor’s alleged antics, Heard has unsuccessfully tried to get the defamation case moved to California. Heard has also entered a motion to have the matter tossed out of court altogether but Fairfax County Chief Judge Bruce White hasn’t ruled on that yet.
Oddly, for those of us who have followed this sordid case, the motion placed in the Virginia state docket by Heard’s team was a lot less damning than usual on Depp’s reluctance, for lack of a harsher expression, to hand over the court ordered files pertaining to his apparently substantial substance and liquor intake the past several years.
“Despite the Court’s reasonable assumption, Mr. Depp did not produce all relevant medical records as ordered-instead, on November 15, 2019, he produced merely a handful of PDF files that appear to be email forwards he received from a single doctor, Dr. Kipper,” said the paperwork submitted on Monday. “Mr. Depp still has not produced any other records relating to his medical condition, despite the fact that there were clearly other doctors involved in his care.”
“Because of Mr. Depp’s abject disregard of this Court’s discovery order dated October 18, 2019 (the “Discovery Order”), and other dilatory and obstructionist conduct, Ms. Heard has not received essential discovery to which she is clearly entitled,” the six-page document points out. “As a result, Ms. Heard cannot appropriately prepare expert witnesses and expert disclosures, cannot fully examine or impeach out-of-state witnesses who are not willing to voluntarily testify in Virginia, and cannot otherwise mount a fair defense within the relatively short time remaining prior to trial.”
Representatives for Depp didn’t reply to request for comment on the continuance and Heard’s lawyers had a terse no comment on their victory. However, earlier this week the Justice League actor’s main legal advocate had a lot to say on the current state of the case and why their side want everything pushed back.
“By failing to produce: (1) his medical records and other documents ordered by the Virginia court; (2) documents his own U.K. counsel produced in his related case for defamation against The London Sun; (3) relevant documents produced in his litigation with his former manager; (4) a single relevant text or other communication with anyone on his staff; or (5) any substantiation for the $50 million in damages he seeks from Ms. Heard, Mr. Depp has made it clear that his strategy is to try to run out the clock during the holiday season so that Ms. Heard is unable to obtain critical evidence and testimony to corroborate her defenses to the baseless defamation suit he filed against her,” stated Roberta Kaplan on November 25 when the request for a trial delay was first filed in the home of Thomas Jefferson.
“While Mr. Depp would like the trial to be a “he said/she said” contest of his own skills as an actor, Ms. Heard, who would prefer that the case be about the truth of what really happened, has asked the Court for a relatively brief two-month continuance to give her time to obtain the evidence that Mr. Depp has stubbornly resisted producing,” added the Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP partner, who joined Heard’s team early this summer.
With the bulk of his once full legal dance card having shuffled off in the several months, Depp is still facing a May 11 2020 starting trial on allegations that Depp punched a location manager on the set of yet to released City of Lies – unless that’s settled soon-ish too.
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