What’s next after the Johnny Depp, Amber Heard trial

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What's next after the Johnny Depp, Amber Heard trial

Amber Heard says she plans to appeal after Johnny Depp was awarded $10.4 million in his bombshell defamation case Wednesday – but experts say it’ll be a while before she has to pay any money.

A jury in Fairfax, Virginia Wednesday found Heard liable for defaming Depp, 58, in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse. The jury also found Heard was defamed by one of Depp’s lawyers but only awarded her $2 million in damages.

“No one will be writing any checks until the case is finally resolved – whether it’s on appeal or motions for new trial, but there is going to be more litigation before we know who’s getting paid what,” former California judge and current criminal defense lawyer Halim Dhanidina told The Post.

The 36-year-old “Aquaman” actress’ lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, confirmed on two television appearances Thursday morning that Heard would be appealing after the jury found her liable on all of Depp’s claims against her – while only finding him liable on one of her counterclaims.

Amber Heard leaves Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse after the verdict on Wednesday.
Amber Heard leaves Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse after the verdict on Wednesday.
REUTERS

“She has some excellent grounds for [appeal],” Bredehoft told “Today” co-anchor Savanah Guthrie.

“She was demonized here,” 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.”

Before Heard can file an appeal, the parties will have to go back into court “soon” to put the jury’s verdict into a judgment, Virginia defamation lawyer Lee Berlik told The Post.

Judge Penney Azcarate ordered the parties back on June 24 to enter the judgment.

Depp, who was not present for the verdict, smokes on a break in the trial on May 27.
Depp, who was not present for the verdict, smokes on a break in the trial on May 27.
Getty Images

After the judgment, Depp and Heard will have 30 days to let the other side know whether they plan to appeal and then another 30 days to file the papers.

Most appeals are heard within a year, Berlik said.

“About a year from today we will probably have a decision from an appellate court,” Berlik said.

In the meantime, Berlik said both sides will likely ask a judge to put paying any damages on hold until appeals are resolved. If they don’t request the pause, they would have to start paying within a matter of weeks from the judgment order, he said.

Berlik said he could see multiple potential grounds that Heard’s side could appeal on — “basically any significant mistake that the trial judge made.”

That includes the fact that the judge allowed the trial to go forward in Virginia, where the Washington Post is based, rather than in California, where Depp and Heard live.

Depp argued that fallout from Heard's op-ed prevented him from reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, above, in the sixth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film.
Depp argued that fallout from Heard’s op-ed prevented him from reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, above, in the sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.
AP

Her team could also appeal the judge’s ruling allowing the trial to be televised live gavel-to-gavel.

And, they could appeal the ruling not to toss the case out in the first place — instead of letting it go to trial — since the op-ed has “no specific allegations of abuse by Johnny Depp,” Berlik said.

Bredehoft tipped her hand as to at least some of the grounds she plans to appeal on, including on the judge’s decision to not allow some of Heard’s medical records as evidence.

Depp’s team was “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,” Bredehoft told Guthrie.

“We had [a] significant amount of texts, including from Mr. Depp’s assistants, saying, ‘When I told him he kicked you, he cried. He is so sorry.’ That didn’t come in.”

Heard’s team can also appeal the dollar amount of damages — but likely wouldn’t be successful on that front because juries in defamation cases get “almost total altitude to award the amount they think is appropriate,” Berlik said.

He said that money verdict would have to be extremely high in order for them to have grounds to knock it down.

Since the jury came in well under Depp’s claims for $50 million in damages and Heard’s claims for $100 million in damages, “An award of $10 million is most likely going to stand,” Berlik said.

Still, Bredehoft told Guthrie her client can’t afford the $10.4 million jury award.

Heard pictured alongside co-star Jason Momoa in "Aquaman."
Heard pictured alongside co-star Jason Momoa in “Aquaman.”
AP

The California lawyer, Dhanidina, said he thought the fact that the jury “didn’t just rubber stamp numbers that were offered to them” it “shows that they actually gave some thought to how much they though each of these counts of defamation were really worth in the real world.

“By giving Johnny Depp the larger amount as well as an amount for punitive damages, I think they were clearly saying that he is the bigger victim in this case,” Dhanidina said.

Reps for Depp declined to comment when asked if he would appeal.

Heard’s reps declined to comment.

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