Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have been doing battle in court for three weeks. The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing his former wife for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse. She is countersuing for $100 million. During April 12th’s opening statements Depp’s lawyers argued that his ex damaged his reputation by “choosing to lie about him for her own personal benefit.” While the article never mentioned Depp by name, his lawyers say that Amber Heard’s op-ed was all part of an elaborate hoax. Now, it seems like a few other factors were involved in how the article came about.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amber Heard allegedly pushed to have personal details of her marriage included in the piece even though her lawyers wanted to remove those extracts. And on Thursday, jurors in the libel lawsuit heard testimony from the American Civil Liberties Union general counsel Terence Dougherty, stating that it was the ACLU that drafted the article under the actress’s name. Dougherty gave evidence about the back and forth discussions that took place between the first draft and publication of the 2018 article. He said it was strategically timed by both the ACLU and Amber Heard to coincide with the release of Aquaman.
Due to Amber Heard’s prominent role in the DC movie, having her as an ambassador for gender-based violence would have bolstered the cause. Several ACLU lawyers reviewed the article at different times. Lawyers for the 36-year-old also reviewed the drafts to ensure they did not violate the nondisclosure agreement she had with Johnny Depp in connection with the couple’s 2016 divorce.
However, an email from ACLU employee Jessica Weitz, who coordinated with Amber Heard on the op-ed, said the DC star sent back an edited version approved by her lawyers that specifically excluded most of the content about her marriage. According to the email, though, Amber Heard was allegedly looking for a way to have deleted portions restored. None of the drafts were shown to the jury. So its contents and level of detail are still unknown.
It’s worth noting that the final version, which is at the center of the lawsuit, contains very little about Amber Heard’s personal experience. Additionally, the passage in The Washington Post where she refers to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” doesn’t mention Johnny Depp at all. Neither does the segment where she wrote about having a “rare vantage point of seeing, in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Instead, most of the op-ed contains information about legislative priorities for advocates of domestic abuse prevention. Other passages refer to parts of Amber Heard’s personal life that are completely unrelated to her ex-husband. Dougherty’s testimony reiterated that the words used in the final piece were very different from the original drafts, and did not refer directly to Ms. Heard’s relationship with Johnny Depp, The Hollywood Reporter says.
Although the focus of the trial is supposed to determine whether Johnny Depp was defamed in the article, very little testimony has related to the op-ed or its contents. As predicted by Amber Heard’s lawyers at the beginning of the trial, it has evolved into an ugly “mudslinging soap opera” that delves into the private, intimate details of the former couple’s personal lives.