The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial captivated viewers with a peek into the stormy marriage of two movie stars but, believe it or not, the proceedings could have been even more sensational.
The unsealing of a trove of 6,000 pages of documents has shown how both sides fought bitterly during the discovery stage of the trial over what could be admitted and what could not. Things were so acrimonious between the parties that there was even a long exchange between the attorneys over Covid safety precautions to be taken during Heard’s deposition.
From Heard’s point of view, Judge Penney Azcarate ended up excluding too much from the jury’s eyes and ears. After the jury awarded Depp $10.4 million in damages, her attorney Elaine Bredehoft appeared on Today and complained that the panel did not hear other evidence in the case that was allowed in Depp’s UK trial, where he lost his case against The Sun for a story that identified him as a “wife beater.” “We had an enormous amount of evidence that was suppressed in this case that was in the UK case,” Bredehoft said.
Heard won a $2 million judgment against Depp, and both sides are appealing their respective verdicts.
Neither the Depp or Heard camps responded to requests for comment on the mass unsealing when contacted today by Deadline.
Among the details in the unsealed documents:
Metadata. While a Depp team witness suggested at trial that Heard’s photos of her injuries may have been edited, in line with the inference that they were doctored, Heard’s team also made a similar inference about photos submitted by Depp. Forensic expert Julian Ackert cited “anomalies that call into question the authenticity of the documents.” Specifically, Heard’s team referred to the “limited metadata reveals the ‘Creation,’ ‘Modified,’ “Received,’ and “Sent” dates are July 22, 2019, despite Mr. Depp claiming this picture was taken in March 2015.” Depp’s team called the claims “irrelevant” and lacking in foundation. The judge denied the Heard team’s motions to pursue the matter further.
Salacious photos. Heard’s team claimed that Depp’s attorneys sought to introduce “irrelevant personal matters” such as nude photos of Heard and “Amber’s brief stint as an exotic dancer years before she met Mr. Depp and Mr. Depp attempting to frivolously and maliciously suggest or imply that Ms. Heard was at one time an escort.” They contended that the allegations she was an escort were “unfounded, incendiary, irrelevant, and designed to harass and demean Amber Heard.” Depp’s team wrote in March that they did not anticipate introducing such evidence, but that it was “possible to envision a scenario in which such photographs might become very relevant in the context of this case, for instance to show a lack of visible injuries.” They also referred to evidence of Heard’s stint as a stripper “or rumors that she was an escort early in her career.
“However, Mr. Depp reserves the right to use such materials to the extent that they become necessary upon rebuttal, and in any event, trial is a fluid process, and these issues are all potentially relevant and should be reserved for final decision at trial.”
They were kept out of the trial.
Marilyn Manson texts. Depp’s friendship with Marilyn Manson was cited during the trial, but his attorneys worried about “guilt by association.” According to the New York Post, the unsealed records show that Manson texted Depp in 2016 that he was in an “amber 2.0” situation. Depp texted back, “I have been reading A LOT of material on that and sociopathic behavior…it is f—ing real my brother!! My ex c— is goddam TEXTBOOK!!!” “Mrs. Heard’s attempt to smear Mr. Depp with an association with Mr. Manson is more prejudicial than it is probative,” Depp’s attorneys argued. The texts were withheld from the trial. Manson is engaged in his own defamation lawsuit, having sued ex-fiancé Evan Rachel Wood and others over her abuse claims.
Depp’s medical history. The actor’s team acknowledged his history of substance abuse, but there were other parts of his medical history that they sought to exclude. They argued that his medical condition was “marginal or no probative value.” An example: evidence that Depp took Valtrex, Nexium and Cialis.
If Heard won. At a November, 2020 deposition, Depp was asked by Heard’s attorney whether how he would react if the jury ruled in favor of his ex-wife and whether he would merely deem it the “opinion of seven people.”
“No, I’m not going to say that’s the opinion of seven people. Listen, it can be the opinion of one man, it can be the opinion of 200 people, it can be the opinion of a thousand people, and they could believe that I did do those things, which I did not take part in any of what Ms. Heard accuses me of. It is outright fiction, therefore I can only hope that people will hear the truth and understand it to be the truth, but I don’t think that the — the young soldiers who were storming the beaches of Normandy — I don’t think they were saying hey, let’s have pizza tonight. I think that they knew what they’d gone into.”
“So what I’m saying is if — if this does come out, the decision in this particular case comes out in … Ms. Heard’s favor, then that is what will happen, but that’s not going to make me go oh, my God, I must have done it.”