On Wednesday, a seven-person jury in Fairfax County ruled largely in Depp’s favor, agreeing with the actor that Heard harmed his reputation when she wrote a 2018 Washington Post op-ed (which did not name Depp) that said she became a public figure representing domestic abuse, two years after she had filed for divorce and a restraining order. In addition, the jury found that Depp, through his lawyer Adam Waldman, defamed Heard in one of three statements that called her accusations a hoax and awarded her $2 million.
Bredehoft said that Heard was “heartbroken” after the verdict. “One of the first things she said is, ‘I am so sorry to all those women out there,’ ” the lawyer said, adding that the verdict sends “a horrible message.”
“It’s a setback, a significant setback … unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively, you won’t be believed,” she said.
Guthrie pointed out that Heard’s legal team was able to show the jury evidence they say demonstrated abuse, from the actress’s testimony to pictures and documents. “The jury rejected it,” Guthrie said.
Bredehoft responded that Depp’s team “demonized” Heard and suppressed evidence. She said Heard’s lawyers were not allowed to tell the jury that Depp lost a libel case in the United Kingdom in 2020 against the British tabloid the Sun, which the actor sued after a headline called him a “wife beater” and a judge found enough evidence to support Heard’s claims about 12 instances of domestic abuse.
“They were able to suppress the medical records, which were very, very significant, because they showed a pattern going all the way back to 2012 of Amber reporting this to her therapist, for example. We had significant amount of texts, including from Mr. Depp’s assistant, saying ‘When I told him he kicked you, he cried, he is so sorry.’ That didn’t come in,” Bredehoft said. “A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed and it caused the jury to be confused.”
On “CBS Mornings,” Bredehoft talked to Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil and Nate Burleson; King noted that they reached out to Depp’s legal team, who declined to be interviewed. Dokoupil brought up that legal analysts were surprised by the verdict. (It’s generally considered easier to prove libel in the U.K. than in the United States.)
“In this case the jury not only didn’t believe Amber Heard, but in ruling that she acted with actual malice, I mean, had the intent to cause harm, right?” he said. “That’s a pretty high standard to have proven.”
Bredehoft responded that one issue was the cameras in the courtroom, something Depp’s team had requested and Heard’s lawyers were against. “So not only did we have a group of Depp fans that were there every day — 100 were allowed in, they lined up at 1 o’clock in the morning for their wristbands to be in that courtroom — but we had everything on camera, and we had tremendous social media that was very, very, very much against Amber.”
Although the jury was told repeatedly not to read anything about the case, Bredehoft said, “they have weekends, they have families, they have social media.” Bredehoft also mentioned the 10-day break in the trial because the judge had to attend a conference. “How could they not have been influenced?”
Burleson told Bredehoft that he’s a former NFL player, and “After a hard loss, it’s easy to wake up and point to the other side. Oftentimes, I realized the better thing to do was to look in the mirror,” he said. “Do you feel like you guys made any mistakes along the way? Do you feel like Amber made a mistake while she was on the stand?”
“You know, Amber even said on the stand, ‘I am not perfect, I am a human being.’ These people were giving her death threats. They threatened to microwave her baby. This is the kind of social media she was getting,” Bredehoft said. “So are any of us perfect? No. Is there something else we feel we should have done? Yes. Absolutely. I always redo my closings 100 times afterwards, whether I win or lose. That’s part of being a good lawyer, a good trial lawyer — there’s always something.”
However, she added, “I think that there were a lot of influences here that were beyond our control.”