The lawyer for Amber Heard said in an exclusive interview on TODAY Thursday that she believed Johnny Depp's legal team worked to "demonize" Heard and was able to suppress "an enormous amount of evidence" in the defamation trial won by Depp on Wednesday.
"That's because she was demonized here," Elaine Charlson Bredehoft told Savannah Guthrie about the verdict. "A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused."
Depp was awarded $10.4 million in damages by a jury on Wednesday after three days of deliberation following a six-week trial. Bredehoft said on TODAY that Heard is "absolutely not" able to pay that much in damages to Depp.
The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star sued Heard for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she identified as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp was not named in the story, but his lawyers argued that it was an "implication" that Depp was an abuser. He has denied all allegations of abuse.
The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages related to lost jobs and career opportunities and $5 million in punitive damages after finding “clear and convincing evidence” that Heard defamed him in the op-ed. A Fairfax County circuit judge reduced the punitive damages to $350,000 because that is Virginia's legal limit.
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome," Depp said in a statement. "Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that."
The verdict effectively served as a rejection of Heard’s testimony that Depp had physically and mentally abused her.
"It's a horrible message," Bredehoft said. "It's a significant setback, because that's exactly what it means. Unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively you won't be believed."
Bredehoft contrasted Wednesday's verdict with a 2020 case in the United Kingdom in which Depp lost a libel lawsuit against the Sun, a British tabloid, for calling him a "wife beater."
"And the court found there, and we weren't allowed to tell the jury this, but the court found that Mr. Depp had committed at least 12 acts of domestic violence, including sexual violence against Amber," Bredehoft said. "So what did Depp's team learn from this? Demonize Amber, and suppress the evidence.
"We had an enormous amount of evidence that was suppressed in this case that was in the U.K. case. In the U.K. case when it came in, Amber won, Mr. Depp lost."
Heard faced constant vitriol on social media during the case, while Depp received strong support. Bredehoft believed that had an effect on the case, even though jurors were instructed not to look on social media.
"There's no way they couldn't have been influenced by it, and it was horrible," she said. "It really, really was lopsided.
"It's like the Roman Colosseum how they view this whole case. I was against cameras in the courtroom, and I went on record with that and had argued against it because of the sensitive nature of this, but it made it a zoo."
Heard, who countersued Depp for $100 million, was awarded $2 million by the jury after it found one statement by Depp defamatory against her. Bredehoft said Heard wants to appeal the verdict.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” Heard said in a statement.
Bredehoft also said Heard was disappointed by the verdict beyond her personal stake in it.
"One of the first things she said is that, 'I am so sorry to all those women out there,'" Bredehoft said. "This is a setback for all women in and outside the courtroom, and she feels the burden of that."
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