On July 13, more than 6,000 pages of legal filings from the case were unsealed. The Daily Beast, which first reported about the documents this weekend, said the information shed new light on the apparent strategies of both the Depp and Heard legal teams.
Much of the new information did not bode well for Depp, who received overwhelming support during the actual six-week trial in Fairfax County, Va.
Several purported copies of the unsealed court documents have been shared online, including by YouTuber and legal commentator Andrea Burkhart, who shared the files to her website. Burkhart accepted donations from viewers to pay the over US$3,300 fee to download the documents.
The new information alleges that Depp’s legal team attempted to submit several items as evidence that never made it into the trial, including nude photos of Heard. In the unsealed documents, Heard’s lawyers make the argument for the nude images to be excluded, calling the proposed submission of evidence “irrelevant personal matters.”
Neither Depp nor Heard has commented publicly on the unsealed court documents.
Heard’s lawyers also fought to remove Depp’s attempted mention of the Aquaman actor’s time allegedly working as an exotic dancer, claiming the information was only offered as a means to “maliciously suggest or imply that Ms. Heard was at one time an escort.”
During a deposition, Depp’s legal team also questioned Heard’s sister, Whitney Henriquez, about an alleged speeding ticket and suspended licence obtained by Heard when she was a teenager.
According to the court documents, they asked Henriquez if the death of Heard’s friend Logan (who died during a car accident as a teenager) had anything to do with Heard’s suspended licence. Henriquez reportedly told Depp’s lawyer’s the licence suspension had “nothing to do with that.”
Text messages from Depp and his associates were mentioned in the unsealed court documents, but not read aloud in court, including texts about an alleged incident where Heard claimed Depp kicked her on a flight in 2014.
One text apparently from Depp to Heard read: “Once again, I find myself in a place of shame and regret. Of course I am sorry…I will never do it again…My illness somehow crept up and grabbed me…I feel so bad for letting you down.”
However, records of these texts (which were presented in the U.K. trial Depp lost in 2020) could not be found in the star’s iCloud, and according to Depp’s legal team, may have been “deleted.”
The court documents also alleged that Heard turned down “tens of millions” of dollars in a divorce settlement from Depp.
Heard’s lawyers, through the unsealed court documents, claimed Depp and his legal counsel edited photo and audio evidence submitted in the trial. They claimed that analysis of the metadata associated with photo and video recording “reveals the items were ‘Modified’ days before their production in this case.”
Among several other claims, Depp’s lawyers fought to remove all mention of the actor’s friendship with controversial musician Marilyn Manson (who was mentioned during the trial), and that Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman had “Russian connections” (which were not mentioned in court).
There were, of course, also motions by Heard’s lawyers that had been denied and were therefore inadmissible in court, including a claim that the Pirates of the Caribbean actor suffers from erectile dysfunction.
Page Six reported the court documents showed that Heard’s lawyers argued that though Depp would “rather not disclose his erectile dysfunction condition, such condition absolutely is relevant to sexual violence, including Mr. Depp’s anger and use of a bottle to rape Amber Heard.”
In July, Heard announced she would be appealing the verdict from the defamation trial.
The Virginia court ordered Heard to pay Depp US$10.35 million for defaming the actor in a Washington Post article, penned by Heard after their divorce. She won a smaller $2-million judgement on a counterclaim against Depp.
This weekend, several hashtags appeared on social media as a result of the unsealed court documents, including #AmberHeardDeservesAnApology. Discourse online still appears to remain overwhelmingly in favour of Depp, even within hashtags calling for Heard’s domestic violence claims to be believed.
Even so, there may be a slight shift to pro-Heard sentiment online — much of which was sparked by Burkhart and her YouTube following, post-analysis of the unsealed documents.
In July, Depp settled a separate lawsuit in which he was accused of punching a crewmember on the set of the movie City of Lies in 2017. The terms of the settlement are not known publicly.