Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial: Court told ACLU only received half of promised $3.5m donation from divorce

Watch live as Johnny Depp’s defamation case against Amber Heard continues

The trial in Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard has resumed in Fairfax, Virginia, with further video depositions being played to the court.

Heard is being sued by Depp for $50m (£38.2m) for implying he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.  Although she did not name him, he claims her allegations made it difficult for him to land movie roles.

On Wednesday, their former agent Christian Carino testified that he felt Heard’s allegations had caused Depp to lose work but did not tie this directly to the op-ed. He also revealed he set up a meeting between the pair two months after Heard filed a restraining order against Depp.

Mr Carino said Heard was dating Elon Musk during the time she was attempting to reconcile with her ex and he had advised her dating famous men meant things would be public.

Further testimony was given by two police officers who responded to a domestic violence call at the couple’s penthouse in May 2016. They said they found no evidence of a crime, Heard was “uncooperative”, and did not want to file a report.

Heard is yet to testify and provide her own account of the relationship.


Mr Dougherty is now being cross-examined by Heard’s team. They return to the subject of the donations to the ACLU.

He says that everybody at the ACLU was hoping and expecting that the full $3.5m would be paid.

However, he adds that the fact Heard didn’t sign a pledge form “cast some doubt” and they then learned she had some financial difficulties.

“We recognised that that might impact whether the full $3.5m was paid or impact whether it was paid over a longer period of time,” he says, though admits there has been no indication to suggest that Heard does not intend to pay the full amount.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 17:54


After publication in The Washington Post an article appeared in USA Today that specifically tied Heard’s words to Depp.

Despite significant efforts by Heard’s attorneys to take out references to Depp and the marriage, people had still made the connection, Mr Dougherty says.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 17:37


Mr Dougherty says Heard’s lawyers removed references to her marriage and divorce.

The op-ed was to be deliberately published to coincide with the release of the movie Aquaman to capitalise on the publicity of the movie.

In an email read to Mr Dougherty from 11 December 2018, Heard is said to have expressed a desire to “artfully” reinsert language referring to getting a temporary restraining order from her “then-husband” two years previous but said she was OK with the final if that was not possible.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 17:19


The op-ed is described as “strong” and Heard’s contributions to the portion of the article that talks about personal experiences is part of what informed the view that this was strong, says Mr Dougherty.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 17:09


Mr Dougherty testifies that following a conversation with Heard, the ACLU communications department was to write the first draft of the op-ed.

The op-ed sought to include Heard’s “fire and rage” on the subject.

It is advised that Heard’s lawyers take a look at the draft given how it skirts around the marriage to Depp and that it has to comply with the non-disclosure agreement between the couple.

He says: “My understanding that the language that ended up in the op-ed was very different from the original op-ed … It did not refer directly to Ms Heard’s relationship with Johnny Depp.”

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 17:04


Elon Musk and James Franco will not testify at trial

Elon Musk and James Franco will not testify at the defamation trial opposing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, a source familiar with the situation has confirmed to The Independent.

Ms Heard’s legal team had included Mr Musk and Mr Franco on its list of potential witnesses ahead of the trial, with both appearing via video link.

Megan Sheets reports on the latest.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:55


Court resumes and jury returns.

Mr Dougherty’s video testimony continues with a change of tack. He is asked about messages between the communications team at the ACLU about working with Heard.

The idea for the op-ed is discussed.

Mr Dougherty is asked why Heard was suggested for the topic of victims of gender-based violence during the Trump administration.

It is suggested that if she feels comfortable she could use her personal story. Mr Dougherty says she had previously expressed her experience of gender-based violence.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:51


Depp trial witness baffles court as he vapes in car during testimony

In one of several viral moments to come out of the ugly legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the testimony of the concierge at their former building stood out on Wednesday.

Alejandro Romero works at the front desk of the Eastern Columbia Building in Downtown Los Angeles where Depp owned five penthouses and lived with Heard for three years.

In pre-recorded deposition played to the court, he appeared frustrated as he answered questions from his car while vaping and clearly did not want to be bothered.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:40


Depp’s lawyer Ben Chew indicates that there will be a change in direction in Mr Dougherty’s video testimony and Judge Azcarate calls a mid-morning recess.

Court resumes at 11.45am.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:29


No press release was sent out by the ACLU about the $3.5m pledge by Heard following an email from her saying there was no need to do so.

Mr Dougherty says Heard did not pay on an annual basis and there have been no payments from 2019 onwards.

Asked if the ACLU has made any efforts to get Heard to pay, Mr Dougherty says they reached out to her in 2019 for the next installment and learned that she was having financial difficulties.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:12

2022-04-28 16:37:57