In 2016, Depp began working with Adam Waldman, a Washington lawyer who worked as a lobbyist for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian metals magnate who is reportedly a Vladimir Putin “favorite.” Waldman also had unspecified ties to Julian Assange, whom he visited at the Ecuadorian embassy in London nine times in 2017, according to official logs seen by The Guardian. The attorney has also reportedly worked with Angelina Jolie and Cher. That year, Depp parted ways with his agent of more than three decades, UTA’s Tracey Jacobs, and signed with CAA. Months later, in January 2017, he sued The Management Group (TMG) and its principals Joel and Robert Mandel for $25 million, accusing his former business managers of gross misconduct and failing to pay his taxes, among other allegations. Later that year, he sued Jake Bloom, his longtime entertainment lawyer, for $50 million for malpractice.
It was through these lawsuits that the world learned of Depp’s lavish expenses. TMG alleged he spent $3 million (or, as Depp later himself claimed, $5 million) on a memorial service that involved blasting the ashes of Thompson out of a cannon. According to TMG, he paid $30,000 a month on wine, a fraction of his alleged $2 million monthly expenses. Both were settled privately.
As those cases wound down, the lawsuits involving Heard started up. In 2019, Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against Heard for a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post in which she said she was a survivor of domestic abuse. And in 2018, he sued The Sun’s executive editor and its publisher, News Group Newspapers Ltd., for libel after the British tabloid used the term “wife beater” to describe him in a headline.
Both legal actions were subject to COVID-19-related delays, but the U.K. trial eventually took place over three weeks in the summer of 2020. The Sun had to prove that its chosen words—“wife beater”—were substantially true in order to win. Its star witness was Heard, who testified about 14 incidents of alleged physical abuse. For weeks, images, text messages, and accusations of drug use and physical violence were slung on either side and in turn splashed across headlines. One especially disturbing photo series was Depp’s severed finger tip and words written in his own blood on a mirror. Elsewhere, Depp claimed that after coming home from a meeting that showed he had lost $650 million, on top of $100 million he owed in back taxes, Heard picked a fight with him that ended in her or one of her friends defecating in their bed. (Heard denied that, claiming that’s just her ex-husband’s “lavatorial sense of humor.”)
After months of consideration, Judge Andrew Nicol wrote in his judgment that “a great majority” of Heard’s abuse allegations “have been proved to the civil standard,” and that “I accept that Mr. Depp put her in fear of her life.” Nicol concluded that “The claimant has not succeeded in his action for libel.”
After Depp lost the U.K. suit, but before he appealed, Warner Bros. dropped him from the third installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, a Harry Potter spin-off in which he played “dark wizard” Gellert Grindelwald. (Variety reported at the time that the merger between Time Warner and AT&T made for a company that had less tolerance for “mercurial” talent.) According to The Hollywood Reporter, his contract for the movie didn’t have a morality clause, so the company had to pay him $16 million; he had only shot one scene.
Nierman, the P.R. strategist, believes that it’s likely Depp’s career could have weathered the storm if he hadn’t taken the controversy to court. “Celebrities have a unique ability to recover from embarrassing gaffes or situations that would ruin the careers and potentially the lives of normal day-to-day people, which is all the more reason why I think that he made a colossal error in fighting this in court,” Nierman said. “Celebrities can recover in part because they have so many people who want them to succeed. [They can] make a lot of money, not just for themselves, but for the other people in their orbit. It’s the studios, it’s the directors, it’s their advisers. There’s a whole legion of people who benefit if celebrities are able to navigate challenging circumstances and recover their reputations.”
Depp’s team appealed on the grounds that there was new evidence: Heard, they claimed, had not donated the whole of her divorce settlement to charity as originally promised. One of his U.K. attorneys, Andrew Caldecott, argued that Heard’s donation pledge was a “calculated and manipulative lie” and “tipped the scales against Mr. Depp from the very beginning.”
The judges on the appeal dismissed it. “We do not accept that there is any ground for believing that the judge may have been influenced by any such general perception as Mr. Caldecott relies on. In the first place, he does not refer to her charitable donation at all in the context of his central findings,” they wrote.
Heard’s team, for their part, stated last year that she’d so far donated more than $1 million each to the ACLU and CHLA, and that the ACLU understood that the money would come over 10 years.
Both Heard and Depp have notched some wins ahead of the start of their U.S. trial. The judge agreed with Depp that Heard’s op-ed about her experience with domestic violence was about him despite the fact that Heard named no names in writing it, and later Heard failed to get the case thrown out after the London courts ruled in her favor. Depp’s team succeeded in getting a court order so that the ACLU and CHLA would reveal how much Heard had donated. Finally, Heard failed to get the trial moved to California, which would have been more convenient since both actors reside there.
Among Heard’s wins is that Depp’s team failed to have anti-SLAPP legislation (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) barred from her defense. (The legislation was passed in order to guard against frivolous lawsuits—specifically, people or corporations with a lot of resources who use lawsuits to intimidate detractors. The penalties for bringing a SLAPP suit are minor in Virginia compared to, say, California). The judge is trying to keep personal information of the two celebrities out of the public with a protective order, and the judge barred Waldman from working on the case after the judge found that he had violated ethical standards (Heard’s team claimed he had been spreading false rumors).
There are also some distinct differences between this U.S. case and the one in the U.K. to keep in mind. First is that Depp is suing Heard herself, not the newspaper that published her op-ed, The Washington Post. As Judge Penny Azcarate explained in her opinion when denying Heard’s motion for dismissal based on the decision in the U.K., Heard “was not a party in the U.K. action and was not treated as one. Because she was not a named defendant, she was not subject to the same discovery rules applicable to named parties.”
Second, the hoops Depp’s team must jump through in order to win the case have a higher degree of difficulty. If The Sun’s legal team had to prove that the term “wife beater” could be considered basically true in reference to Depp, his legal team in the U.S. has to prove that Heard lied and knew she was lying when alleging domestic abuse.
Source by www.vanityfair.com