Amber Heard has hired new lawyers in her latest legal battle.
The actress has hired Ballard Spahr as her lead appellate counsel, less than a month after filing a motion to appeal the verdict in her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s defamation case against her.
David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown, who previously defended the New York Times against Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit earlier this year, will lead Heard’s legal team.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal because it is a case with significant First Amendment implications for every American,” the attorneys said in a joint statement. “We’re confident the appellate court will apply the law properly without deference to popularity, reverse the judgment against Ms. Heard, and reaffirm the fundamental principles of Freedom of Speech.”
Following her summer defamation trial, Ben Rottenborn will continue to represent Heard as co-counsel. Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, on the other hand, has announced that she will be stepping down from the case.
“This is the ideal time to pass the baton,” she said in an E! News statement. “I have promised Amber and her appellate team my full cooperation and assistance as they continue on their path to success.”
Her spokesperson explained why Heard chose to hire additional lawyers for her anticipated appeal.
“When it comes to protecting the fundamental right to free expression, we look at the jury’s decision as the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end,” Heard’s spokesperson said in a statement to E! News. “A different court requires different representation, especially now that so much new evidence is emerging.”
A Virginia jury returned a verdict in Depp and Heard’s defamation trial on July 1. After nearly six weeks of testimony, the jury found Heard liable for defaming Depp and awarded the actor $10 million in compensatory and $5 million in punitive damages.
Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate later reduced the punitive damages to $350,000, which is the state’s statutory cap or legal limit, making his total damages less than $10.4 million.
In response to Heard’s countersuit, the jury awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages.
However, on July 22, Depp filed a notice of appeal seeking to overturn Heard’s $2 million verdict in the couple’s defamation trial.
“This was an overwhelmingly positive verdict for Mr. Depp,” his representatives told E! News. “Mr. Depp believes that the verdict speaks for itself, and that now is the time for both parties to move on with their lives and heal. Mr. Depp is filing a concurrent appeal to ensure that the full record and all relevant legal issues are considered by the Court of Appeal if Ms. Heard is determined to pursue further litigation by appealing the verdict.”
Heard’s plans to appeal comes after Judge Azcarate rejected the actress’ argument that she was not given a fair trial after one juror allegedly served on the jury without being summoned, citing there has been “no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing” that warrants a mistrial.
A spokesperson for Heard said in a statement last month about moving forward with the appeal, which will require Heard to post a bond for the full amount of damages she owes, that they “believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment.”
“As a result, we will appeal the verdict,” they added. “While we recognize that today’s filing will spark a Twitter firestorm, there are steps we must take to ensure both fairness and justice.”
In response to the news, a Depp spokesperson issued the following statement: “The jury heard the extensive evidence presented during the six-week trial and reached a clear and unanimous verdict that the defendant repeatedly defamed Mr. Depp. We remain confident in our case and believe that this verdict will be upheld.”