EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard won’t be facing off in a Virginia courtroom anytime soon, it seems. In yet another delay in the trial start of the former Pirates of the Caribbean star’s acetous $50 million defamation lawsuit against the Aquaman actress, the former couple now will trade barbs and evidence starting April 11, 2022. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
Already rescheduled several times, the trial had been set to start May 7, which was looking like the final mad rush of discovery and depositions.
The new date was decided Tuesday by Fairfax County Circuit Court Chief Judge Bruce White. The last time the fuming matter was postponed was back in September of last year. While Depp had been advocating for a new delay then because of his Fantastic Beasts 3 shooting schedule, White actually pushed the date from January 2021 to May due to backlogs in the state’s court system because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And, to the frustration of some involved, that’s kind of the reason this time too, as the April 2022 date was the first available slot for a civil jury trial, I hear.
As with last September, criminal cases are still the priority in Virginia. In that context, and with proceedings slowly starting up again as Covid-19 continues to rage across the nation, a murder trial with a defendant who is already behind bars was given the Depp-Heard May 7 date.
With Depp’s UK lawyers anticipating an oral hearing next month in their attempt to appeal their loss in the actor’s libel suit against The Sun tabloid, the significant date shift in Virginia barely lowers the volume in the loud matter. For once thing, Heard countersued her ex-husband for $100 million last summer after failing to get the initial suit dismissed.
In fact, in the UK, Heard’s team recently filed an opposition to the appeal there, and Depp’s barristers have until February 28 to reply.
Having been axed from the Fantastic Beasts franchise in November, mere days after Judge Andrew Nicol’s damning “wife-beater” ruling against Depp, the actor has been on a subpoena binge in the U.S. of late. The ACLU and Elon Musk were pulled into the Virginia case earlier this month, by Depp. That follows Heard dragging Pirates studio Disney and the LAPD into the matter in January for basically everything that they might or might not have on her ex.
Among those high-profile names in this very high-profile case, free speech nonprofit the ACLU is in the spotlight again in the case because the group was among the two organizations to which Heard said five years ago she was donating half of her $7 million divorce settlement. Despite years of insisting on the donation and an ACLU Ambassador for women’s rights role for Heard, it turns out that big-bucks payments have been “delayed,” according to what the actress’ attorney Elaine Bredehoft told Deadline in January.
This all started when Depp sued Heard in Virginia state court for $50 million in March 2019 after she wrote a Washington Post op-ed about being a victim of domestic abuse. The December 2018 piece never actually named the actor, but the already fairly litigious Depp alleged that the op-ed damaged his already tainted rep and cost him a well-paying gig in Disney’s planned Pirates of the Caribbean reboot.
The filed paperwork went on to say that in fact it was Depp who was the real victim in the couple’s short-lived marriage that ended in full public view in 2016. “Ms. Heard is not a victim of domestic abuse, she is a perpetrator,” the suit read in part.
Obviously, Heard disagreed.
As depositions are taken and more motions are to be decided in the case, this latest delay may ended up cranking up the volume on the near ear-splitting matter all the more – and could be pushed back again.