Amber Heard switches up legal team for appeal of Johnny Depp trial verdict

Elaine Bredehoft, who represented Heard during the initial trial, is out.

August 15, 2022, 1:06 PM

Amber Heard is switching up her legal team for her appeal of the June 1 verdict in the high-profile defamation case between her and ex-husband Johnny Depp.

The "Aquaman" actress has hired attorneys David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of Ballard Spahr as her appellate counsel, according to a press release.

"We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American," Axelrod and Brown said in a joint statement. "We're confident the appellate court will apply the law properly without deference to popularity, reverse the judgment against Ms. Heard, and reaffirm the fundamental principals of Freedom of Speech."

Ben Rottenborn of Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black is staying on as co-counsel while Elaine Charlson Bredehoft of Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Nadelhaft is stepping down. Rottenborn and Bredehoft represented Heard during the initial defamation trial.

PHOTO: Actor Amber Heard stands with her attorney attorney Elaine Bredehoft before closing arguments in the Depp v. Heard trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, May 27, 2022.
Actor Amber Heard stands with her attorney attorney Elaine Bredehoft before closing arguments in the Depp v. Heard trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, May 27, 2022.
Steve Helber/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

"This is the perfect time to pass the baton," Bredehoft said in a statement. "I have pledged to Amber and her appellate team my complete cooperation and assistance as they move forward on a path towards success."

A spokesperson for Heard said in a statement, "When it comes to protecting the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech, we look at the jury's decision -- to paraphrase a famous quote -- not 'as the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.'" They added that "a different court warrants different representation."

The jury largely sided with Depp in its June 1 verdict, in the defamation trial between the former couple, ordering Heard to pay Depp more than $10 million in damages. Depp was ordered to pay his ex-wife $2 million in damages.

Heard filed a notice of appeal on July 21, with Depp filing a notice of appeal the following day.

Depp's filing stated that he is appealing "all adverse rulings and from the final judgement order."

"This was an overwhelmingly positive verdict for Mr. Depp," a close source to Depp told ABC News at the time. "The verdict speaks for itself, and Mr. Depp believes that this is a time for both parties to move on with their lives and heal. But if Ms. Heard is determined to pursue further litigation by appealing the verdict, Mr. Depp is filing a concurrent appeal to ensure that the full record and all relevant legal issues be considered by the Court of Appeal."

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