Who is J Benjamin Rottenborn? All about Amber Heard's lawyer in the Johnny Depp defamation trial

Amber Heard's lawyer J Benjamin Rottenborn began Johnny Depp's cross-examination on Thursday (Image via Woods Rogers Attorneys and Lawrence Busacca/Getty Images)
Amber Heard's lawyer J Benjamin Rottenborn began Johnny Depp's cross-examination on Thursday (Image via Woods Rogers Attorneys and Lawrence Busacca/Getty Images)

Amber Heard's lawyer, J. Benjamin Rottenborn, along with her legal team, began Johnny Depp’s cross-examination on the witness stand on Thursday, April 21. The attorneys questioned Depp about drugs, texts, and addiction in an attempt to challenge his defamation lawsuit against Heard.

With massive uproar surrounding the case and its nuances, Rottenborn has been the subject of intense observation and scrutiny. As Heard's lawyer, keen followers of the case are curious about Rottenborn's history and credentials.

Everything to know about J. Benjamin Rottenborn


Benjamin Rottenborn is a prominent lawyer who practices in Litigation, Government Investigations & White Collar Criminal Defense, and Emerging Growth practice groups at Woods Rogers. He comes with significant experience representing clients in complex civil litigation matters.

According to his official bio, Rottenborn practices at both the trial and appellate levels in federal and state courts across the country as part of his role as a litigator. The lawyer reportedly hails from Waynesboro, Virginia.

He graduated from the University of Virginia with the highest distinction and earned his law degree at Stanford Law School. Rottenborn also served as the president of the Stanford Law and Policy Review.

Following his graduation, the lawyer started working as a judicial clerk for the Honorable David G. Campbell, U.S. District Judge for the District of Arizona.

Benjamin Rottenborn has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. Prior to joining Woods Rogers, he also served as a partner in the Chicago office of the international law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He is also ranked as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Virginia.

Exploring the current status of Johnny Depp's defamation trial

J. Benjamin Rottenborn referred to a series of 2013 text exchanges between Depp and his friend, actor Paul Bettany, to allege that the actor assaulted Heard while under the influence. The text read:

“I, of course, pounded and displayed ugly colors to Amber on a recent journey. I am an insane person and not so fair headed after too much of the drink. Weed, pills… Fine!!! Booze??? My capacity is too large and I won’t stop… Ugly and sad… Oh, how I love it.”

Benjamin Rottenborn revealed another text that showed Depp saying he would burn and drown Heard’s corpse. The text read:

“Let’s burn Amber!!! Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.”

He also shared one of Depp’s texts to Bettany mentioning whiskey, pills, and cocaine in 2014, the period during which Depp claimed he stopped drinking. The message said:

“All night before I picked Amber up to fly to LA this past Sunday… Ugly, mate… No food for days… powders… Half a bottle of Whiskey, a thousand red bull and vodkas, pills, 2 bottles of Champers on plane…”

The text was reportedly sent around the time Depp and Heard took a private flight from Boston to Los Angeles. The latter claimed that Depp assaulted her in an inebriated state during the flight and had a blackout from intoxication.


During his testimony, Depp mentioned that he locked himself in the bathroom and fell asleep to avoid Heard during the flight. The actor also argued that he only drank a glass of champagne before boarding the plane.

However, Benjamin Rottenborn revealed a text from Depp to Heard where the actor apologized for his behavior on the flight. The text said:

“Once again I find myself in a place of shame and regret. Of course, I am sorry. I really don’t know why, or what happened. But I will never do it again… My illness somehow crept up and grabbed me… I must get better. And I will. For us both. Starting today. I love you. Again, I am so sorry. So sorry.”

Attorneys also referred to Depp’s texts to musician Patti Smith, where the actor said he was “so disappointed” in himself for fighting with Heard. Rottenborn even highlighted Depp’s friendship with Elton John and Marilyn Manson while focusing on his past substance abuse.

The lawyer ultimately claimed that Amber Heard’s 2018 Washington Post op-ed did not defame Johnny Depp and that he suffered due to his own behavior. During the opening statements earlier this month, Benjamin Rottenborn mentioned that he would expose the "real Johnny Depp" during the trial.

Edited by Sabika