Johnny Depp's lawyer Camille Vasquez says Amber Heard verdict isn't a setback for women
Johnny Depp's lawyers say the actor is "over the moon" at the outcome of his defamation case against Amber Heard and suggested he might not make the actress pay the $10.35 million judgment. Camille Vasquez and Ben Chew hit the morning show circuit on Wednesday — much to the dismay of Heard's team, given their new statement down below — where they praised the jury for looking at the evidence and denied that social media influenced the outcome. Vasquez also hit back at critics who say the verdict is a setback to the #MeToo movement.
"It was like the weight of the world had been taken off his shoulders and I feel that finally, after six years, he's gotten his life back," Chew told Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos.
Stephanopoulos noted that Heard's lawyers say she plans to appeal the verdict and doesn't have the money to pay Depp.
"You all have said that the goal was not to impoverish Ms. Heard. Is it possible where we could see a settlement where she forgoes the appeal in return for Mr. Depp waiving any monetary damages?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"We obviously can't disclose attorney-client communications, but as Mr. Depp testified ... this was never about money for Mr. Depp," Chew replied. "This was about restoring his reputation — and he's done that ... that's what it was about for him."
Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for defamatory claims Heard made in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. (Virginia state law caps punitive damages at $350,000.) Although Heard never named the actor, she wrote about surviving sexual and domestic violence two years prior. It was inferred she was talking about Depp as she publicly filed for a temporary restraining order against the Pirates of the Caribbean star in 2016. A jury awarded Heard $2 million in damages for one of her three defamatory counterclaims against Depp.
Ahead of Vasquez and Chew's interview, a spokesperson for Heard issued the following statement to Yahoo Entertainment: "It is as unseemly as it is unprofessional that Johnny Depp's legal team has chosen to do a victory lap for setting back decades of how women can be treated in the courtroom. What’s next? A movie deal and merchandising?"
When asked about the portion of the statement that says the verdict was "setting back decades of how women can be treated in the courtroom," Vasquez hit back.
"We're only speaking about what happened in this case, right? And the facts in this case were overwhelmingly positive for Johnny and the verdict speaks for itself," she said.
Vasquez, who was promoted to partner after the June 1 verdict, similarly denied it was a setback for #MeToo: "I think our response to that is we encourage any victim to come forward — domestic violence doesn't have a gender."
Vasquez said Depp's key to victory was "the facts and the truth" in that the actor had an opportunity "to speak the truth for the first time" at the trial.
"It was six years in the making, and I think he was able to connect with the jury and the general public and tell what really happened in this relationship," she continued.
Vasquez and Chew also stopped by the Today show where they told Savannah Guthrie it's "utterly baseless" and "categorically false" that Depp or his team orchestrated an online smear campaign against Heard.
Heard's lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, previously told Guthrie that "there's no way" the jury "couldn't have been influenced by" social media, which was overwhelmingly in support of Depp. "It was horrible," Bredehoft said. "It really, really was lopsided."
"No, I don't think there's any reason to believe that the jurors violated their oath," Chew said on Wednesday. "That suggestion was disappointing to hear."
"[The jurors] were admonished every single night," Vasquez added. "And they had a tremendous amount of respect for the court and the process, and they were doing the best that they could."
Guthrie noted that the jury essentially rejected every one of Heard's claims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of Depp.
"Why do you think the jury didn't believe her?" Guthrie asked.
"My sense is that it had a lot to do with accountability," Chew said. "Johnny owned his issues and he was candid about his alcohol and drug issues. He was candid about some unfortunate texts that he wrote, and I think it was a sharp contrast to Ms. Heard, who didn't seem, or at least the jury may have perceived, that she didn't take accountability for anything."
Chew is confident the verdict will be upheld: "We feel very confident that there are no errors that would justify any kind of successful appeal."
MORE: Expert witness in Johnny Depp case says he has 'emotional concussion' following the trial