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Amber Heard’s attorney says social media frenzy swayed jury, actor can’t pay more than $10m in damages

Amber Heard’s lawyer says ‘lopsided’ social media chatter and posts about Johnny Depp’s libel trial ‘influenced’ the verdict and turned the courtroom into a ‘zoo’.

Elaine Bredehoft spoke on NBC’s “TODAY” show on Thursday, a day after Depp won his lawsuit against Heard, his ex-wife, in the high-profile case.

Bredehoft said she believed jurors could not escape the intense social media frenzy surrounding the trial.

“How can you not? They went home every night. They have families. Families are on social media. We had a 10-day break in the middle because of the court conference. He didn’t there’s no way they weren’t influenced by that,” she says.

She called the social media coverage “awful”. During the six-week trial, posts on TikTok and Twitter appeared to overwhelmingly favor Depp.

“It’s like the Roman Colosseum, you know? How they saw this whole thing. I was against the cameras in the courtroom and recorded this and objected to it due to the nature noticeable of that. But it made it a zoo,” Bredehoft said.

She described the first words Heard said to her after the explosive jury decision was announced.

“One of the first things she said was, ‘I’m so sorry for all those women. It’s a setback for all women inside and outside the courtroom,'” Bredehoft said. “She feels the burden of it.”

Bredehoft said the verdict sent “a horrible message”.

“Unless you pull out your phone and film your spouse or partner having a fight, you will indeed not be believed,” she added.

Depp, who was not in court on Wednesday due to a previously scheduled work commitment, sued for $50 million in damages over a 2018 opinion essay by Heard in The Washington Post, in which she said she had become a “public figure representing domestic violence”. .”

Although the essay never mentioned Depp by name, his attorneys said it was indirectly referring to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce.

The jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages — $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the punitive damages the jury awarded Depp to $350,000, which is the state’s statutory cap or legal limit, bringing his total damages to $10.4 million.

When asked if Heard was able to pay the $10.4 million judgment, Bredehoft replied, “Oh no, absolutely not.”

She said Heard “absolutely” intends to appeal.

“She has excellent reasons for that,” Bredehoft said, noting that “there was so much evidence that didn’t come through” related to Depp’s lost libel case in the UK two years ago. following allegations that he punched Heard.

She explained that Heard’s medical records had been deleted, which she said was “very significant” because they showed “a pattern dating back to 2012 of Amber reporting this to her therapist.”

Heard counterattacked Depp for $100 million. The countersuit centered on three statements Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman made in 2020 to the Daily Mail in which he described Heard’s abuse allegations as a “hoax”.

The jury found that Depp, through Waldman, defamed Heard on one point. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages, but zero dollars in punitive damages.

Bredehoft said the case was “the story of two trials”.

“Johnny Depp sued in the UK for the same matter and the burden of proof was easier on him there,” she said. “The court found there – and we weren’t allowed to tell the jury – that Mr. Depp committed at least 12 acts of domestic violence, including sexual assault, against Amber. So what is Depp’s team learned from this? Demonize Amber and suppress the evidence,” she said.

“We had a tremendous amount of evidence that was suppressed in this case that was in the UK case. And in the UK case, when it came Amber won. Mr. Depp lost,” Bredehoft continued.

In a statement Wednesday after the jury’s decision, Depp said, “The jury gave my life back to me. I’m really humble.

Heard said his disappointment was “beyond words”.

“I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence was still not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband,” she said.