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Johnny Depp's attorney says Amber Heard 'didn't take accountability for anything'

“Johnny owned his issues,” lawyer Benjamin Chew said Wednesday, a week after Depp won his high-profile defamation case against his ex-wife.
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Johnny Depp’s attorney said the actor emerged from his high-profile defamation trial victorious because he "owned his issues," while the jury may have perceived that his ex-wife, Amber Heard, didn't take accountability for her actions.

Lawyers Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez appeared Wednesday on NBC's "TODAY" show, where they were asked why the jury didn't believe Heard's claims.

“My sense is that it had to do a lot with accountability," Chew said.

"Johnny owned his issues. He was very candid about his alcohol and drug issues. He was candid about some unfortunate texts that he wrote," Chew said. "I think it was 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." 

Actor Johnny Depp's lawyers Camille Vasquez and Ben Chew on NBC's "TODAY" Show on June 8, 2022.
Actor Johnny Depp's lawyers Camille Vasquez and Ben Chew on NBC's "TODAY" Show on June 8, 2022.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Vasquez recalled the moment the verdict was announced and feeling "an overwhelming sense of relief."

"I was speaking with a mutual friend of Johnny and ours and he said, 'I haven’t seen Johnny smile like that in six years,' " she said.

"The weight of the world is off of his shoulders. He’s got his life back," Chew said.

For six weeks, the blockbuster trial between the Hollywood figures opened their once-private lives to public scrutiny, dominated headlines and caused a stir on social media platforms like Tik Tok and Twitter.

It culminated with the June 1 verdict in favor of Depp, finding that Heard tarnished his reputation and harmed his career with her claims of domestic abuse.

Depp had sued Heard for $50 million in damages over a a 2018 op-ed essay by Heard in The Washington Post, in which she said she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” 

Although the essay never mentioned Depp by name, his attorneys said it indirectly referred to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce. 

Heard countersued Depp for $100 million. The countersuit centered around three statements made by Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman in 2020 to the Daily Mail, in which he described Heard’s allegations of abuse as a “hoax.”

Actor Johnny Depp stands with his legal team Camille Vasquez, left, and Benjamin Chew in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on May 27, 2022.Steve Helber / AP file

The jury awarded Depp $5 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages. The punitive damages were reduced to $350,000, which is the state’s statutory cap or legal limit, making his total damages $10.4 million. 

The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages in her counterclaim but nothing in punitive damages.

Perhaps even more prominent than the trial was the social media frenzy surrounding it, which overwhelmingly appeared to favor Depp. The TikTok hashtag "Justice for Amber Heard" received 27 million views, while one for Depp raked in 20 billion views.

During an appearance nearly one week ago on “TODAY,” Elaine Bredehoft, Heard’s attorney, said the social media chatter swayed the jury.

"There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it,” she said.

On Wednesday, Depp's attorneys said they disagreed with that suggestion.

"No, I don’t think there’s any reason to believe the jurors violated their oath," Chew said.

While Vasquez admitted the social media scrutiny was "everywhere," she said "at the same time (the jurors) were admonished every single night. And they had tremendous amount of respect for the court and the process and they were doing the best they could." 

Heard’s attorneys have suggested that the sweeping support for Depp online may have been part of an orchestrated campaign by him or on his behalf.

Chew denounced that as “utterly baseless.” Vasquez said such claims were “categorically false.” 

After the verdict was handed down, Depp, who was not present for the jury's reading as he was in the U.K., said in a statement that he was "truly humbled."

Heard called the verdict “a setback” for women and victims of domestic abuse. 

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband."

Bredehoft said Heard does not have the means to pay the $10.4 million judgment, and "absolutely" intends to appeal. 

Asked about the appeal, Chew on Wednesday said he and Vasquez “feel very confident there were no errors that would justify any kind of successful appeal."