Will Amber Heard win an appeal? Experts weigh in on actress's 'long shot' at a successful appeal 

Amber Heard's lawyer said that her legal team is likely to appeal against the defamation lawsuit verdict (Image via Getty Images)
Amber Heard's lawyer said that her legal team is likely to appeal against the defamation lawsuit verdict (Image via Getty Images)

The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial finally concluded on June 1, 2022, with a seven-body Fairfax County court jury ruling in favor of the Pirates of the Caribbean star. Jurors declared a unanimous verdict and ruled that Heard defamed Depp in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed. The jury also found that Adam Waldman's statement had defamed Heard too.

In the article, Heard referred to herself as a domestic violence survivor, and Depp’s team claimed she attempted to paint the actor as her alleged abuser. Although Depp was not directly named in the op-ed, he alleged that the article damaged his public image and negatively impacted his career.

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Depp sued Heard for libel and filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against the actress over her op-ed. Meanwhile, the latter countersued Depp for $100 million.

Following the latest ruling, Heard was ordered to pay Depp $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages, with the latter being reduced to $350,000 as per Virginia Law. The Aquaman star was also awarded $2 million as she won one claim about Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman defaming her through his “abuse hoax” statements.

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In the wake of the defamation verdict, Amber Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft said that her legal team plans to appeal the ruling made in the Fairfax court.


What happens if Amber Heard appeals Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit verdict?

Experts said Amber Heard's appeal against the defamation verdict would be a "long shot" (Image via Getty)
Experts said Amber Heard's appeal against the defamation verdict would be a "long shot" (Image via Getty)

As the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial came to an end, Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft appeared on the Today show and said that the actress’ legal team is planning to appeal the decision by the jury:

“Absolutely, and she has some excellent grounds for it. She was demonized here. A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused.”

Bredehoft referred to the verdict as a “tale of two trials” and said that Depp’s team learned from the actor’s loss against The Sun in the UK trial:

“The court found there—and we weren’t allowed to tell the jury this—that Mr. Depp had committed at least 12 acts of domestic violence, including s*xual violence, against Amber. So what did Depp’s team learn from this? Demonize Amber and suppress the evidence.”
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When Today co-host Savannah Guthrie asked the lawyer if she believed that the jury saw anti-Heard sentiments on the internet during the ongoing trial, she said:

“How can you not? They went home every night. They have families. The families are on social media. We had a 10-day break in the middle because of the judicial conference, there’s no way they couldn’t see it.”

Meanwhile, Virginia defamation lawyer Lee Berlik told The New York Post that both the parties will have to return to court “soon” to put the jury’s verdict into a judgment before Heard can file an appeal.

Similarly, the founder of Mark Litwak & Associates, Mark Litwak, told Newsweek that Heard would have to prove that the "judge made a serious error” and made the trial “unfair” to her as part of any possible appeal.

He also clarified that an appellate court does not review the credibility of the witnesses or any facts mentioned during the trial and does not second guess the jury's determination as to which testimony is credible or not.

It only reviews the judge's actions and rulings during the case. Therefore, overturning the decision and ordering a new trial is only possible if the appellate court finds that the judge “improperly excluded evidence that affected the outcome of the case.”

Los Angeles-based defamation and appellate lawyer Jeff Lewis told NBC News that Amber Heard’s successful appeal is a “long shot” as appeals are usually “hard to win”:

“It’s absolutely a long shot... anywhere between 70 to 90 percent of all appeals result in no change in the judgment.”

NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos also said that the team would “face some really long odds” if they decided to appeal based on the overall negative response against the actress during the trial and if the jury was affected by the same:

“You’re going to need to show that a juror was actually affected by it [and] it affected their deliberations or the verdict.”

As per reports, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp will have 30 days to inform the other team whether they plan to appeal the verdict and another 30 days to file the papers.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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