A month after winning in a defamation suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny Depp has been ordered to pay the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) $38,000 in legal fees for complying with a request for trial evidence.
During the trial, the ACLU demanded $86,000 from Depp as reimbursement for production expenses, arguing that the reimbursement was for “considerable expense spent responding to onerous subpoenas served by Mr. Depp from an underlying action in which neither the ACLU nor any of its employees were parties,” as reported by Law & Crime.
The attorney for the ACLU, Stephanie Teplin, stated that the $86,000 was appropriate, given that Depp requested thousands of papers over a six-year period to be used as evidence in the defamation trial. In early June, Depp’s attorneys filed a motion refusing to pay the $86,000.
Justice Arthur Engoron of the Manhattan Supreme Court ordered on Friday that Depp must pay $38,000 to the ACLU, less than half of what was demanded. Depp’s attorney, Jessica Meyers of Brown Rudnick, deﬁned the ACLU’s initial demand as “extortionate and outrageous.”
A representative for the ACLU stated, “We are delighted that the Court acknowledged that the ACLU cooperated with Mr. Depp’s requests at substantial expense.” Meyers stated, according to Law & Crime, that the ACLU was responsible for authoring and publishing the defamatory opinion piece against Johnny Depp.
On June 2, a jury voted largely in favor of Depp, determining that Heard defamed the Pirates of the Caribbean star in a 2018 op-ed she published for The Washington Post with the headline, “Johnny Depp is a sexual predator.” “I spoke out against sexual abuse, incurring the wrath of our culture. This must change.”
During the six-week trial, it was determined that the ACLU assisted Heard in writing and placing the op-ed in The Washington Post and that the organization used Heard as an “Ambassador for women’s rights, with a concentration on gender-based violence.”
After her 2016 divorce from Depp, Heard stated publicly that she will donate her $7 million divorce settlement to charity; $3.5 million to both the ACLU and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. During Heard’s cross-examination in the trial, it became evident that she had not donated the whole $3.5 million, but the ACLU declared that it would continue to support her despite not getting the full amount.
While Depp now owes $38,000 to the ACLU, Heard owes Depp $8.35 million in damages, which Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, has declared publicly the actress cannot afford. Heard has declared her intent to file an appeal.