Amber Heard pushed for details of her marriage to actor Johnny Depp to be included in an op-ed she wrote about domestic violence, even though his lawyers wanted those excerpts removed from the article, who is now the subject of Depp’s defamation lawsuit against her, according to evidence shown Thursday during the trial.
The jury heard testimony Thursday from Terence Dougherty, General Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU wrote the article on Heard’s behalf, reflecting her role as an ACLU ambassador specializing in gender-based violence issues.
Dougherty testified about the push and pull that occurred between the first draft and the publication of the article in The Washington Post in December 2018 — strategically timed by the ACLU and Heard to coincide with the release of “Aquaman,” a film in which she played a prominent role.
Depp filed his lawsuit in Fairfax County Circuit Court after the article was published, in which Heard claimed that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and felt the full weight of it. the strength of our culture’s anger against women who speak out.” Depp’s lawyers say it is a clear reference to the abuse allegations he made against Depp in 2016, which the actor denies.
Dougherty testified that numerous ACLU attorneys reviewed the article at different times and asked Heard’s attorneys to review the article, as well as making sure he didn’t violate a confidentiality agreement Heard had with Depp related to the couple’s 2016 divorce.
During those reviews, Heard submitted an edited version approved by her attorney that “specifically neutralized much of the draft related to her marriage.”according to an email from Jessica Weitz, an ACLU staffer who coordinated the article with Heard.
According to the email, Heard was looking for a way to restore a deleted part of the article.
Different drafts of the article were not shown to the jury, so it was unclear how much personal detail was in the first draft and how much had been redacted by Heard’s lawyers.
The final version has very little of Heard’s personal experiences. Doesn’t mention Depp at all. In addition to her passage about her as a public figure representing domestic abuse, in another passage he wrote: “I have the rare advantage of real-time insight into how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”.
Much of the article discusses legislative priorities for domestic abuse prevention advocates. Other snippets refer to parts of his personal life that are not related to Depp.
Dougherty testified that “the language that ended up in the final opinion piece was very different from the original language” of the first draft. “He was not directly referring to Heard’s relationship with Johnny Depp.”
Although the trial was supposed to be about whether Depp was defamed in the article, very little testimony in the first three weeks, as of Thursday, they have dealt with the article itself or its contents. Heard’s lawyer predicted that the trial would become a soap opera of attacks that would bring to light the turbulent details of Depp and Heard’s personal lives.
Heard’s lawyers, however, have said that even if the jury believed that she was never abused by Depp, Heard’s arguments would prevail.as the article is not about Depp, nor does it defame him, and Heard’s free speech rights allow her to speak out on issues of public importance such as domestic abuse.
Much of Dougherty’s testimony also focused on whether Heard followed through on a promise to donate $3.5 million — half of the $7 million she received as a divorce settlement from Depp — to the ACLU. Dougherty testified that the ACLU has received $1.3 million so far and expects to receive the money over 10 years, but that Heard has not contributed since 2018.
Depp’s spending habits
The jury also briefly heard the Depp’s business manager Ed White. The manager said he stepped in in 2016 to resolve Depp’s financial difficulties, including missed tax payments and lack of liquidity.
When he blamed Heard for an excessive wine bill that had multiple $500 bottles of Spanish Vega Sicilia, Heard’s attorneys responded with a series of questions about Depp’s spending habits, including million dollars spent to shoot journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon.
Depp and Heard met while filming Diary of a seducer an adaptation of a Thompson novel. Depp previously testified that he and Thompson were friends and that Depp found the missing manuscript when he was going through Thompson’s files.