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Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial: Heard's witnesses continue

The trial is nearing its end with testimony expected to end next week and closing arguments set for Friday, May 27.

Live coverage on this blog has ended, please click here for the latest.

Amber Heard’s legal team continued its defense Thursday in Johnny Depp’s defamation suit against her.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she described surviving domestic violence — without mentioning Depp by name.

Heard’s witness list Thursday included Depp’s former best friend, Bruce Witkin; his former agent, Tracey Jacobs; his former business manager, Joel Mandel; and Heard’s former attorney, Michelle Mulroney. This group of witnesses testified to Depp’s character, drug and alcohol use, and what was characterized as erratic behavior.

Thursday also focused on Heard’s countersuit, which centers on statements made in 2020 by Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman. Waldman accused Heard of making up “hoax” allegations against Depp and said she staged being abused.

Waldman’s witness testimony, via video deposition, was limited due to his conversations with Depp being the subject of attorney-client privilege.

Jessica Kovacevic, Heard’s talent agent, was asked to testify regarding business opportunities Heard lost following Waldman's comments.

Heard's legal team also called Ron Schnell, director of Berkeley Research Group, to the witness stand to speak to the negative social media response directed at Heard in the time following Waldman's public statements.

CORRECTION: A previous version misspelled the last name of Amber Heard's sister. She is Whitney Henriquez, not Henrique.

Court is adjourned until Monday

45d ago / 9:25 PM UTC

Testimony in the Depp-Heard defamation trial just wrapped up for the week.

Judge Penney Azcarate ordered all parties back to court at Monday at 9 a.m. and reminded jurors to steer clear of any material on the case.

Heard's talent agent testifies about how 'hoax' allegation impacted her client's career

45d ago / 9:17 PM UTC

Jessica Kovacevic, Heard's talent agent from William Morris Endeavor, testified about the opportunities Heard lost after comments made in the Daily Mail by Depp's former attorney.

Adam Waldman is quoted in a 2020 article accusing Heard of fabricating the abuse allegations against Depp, calling them a "hoax."

In a video deposition taped in March and played for the court on Thursday, Kovacevic said that following the accusations that she was lying, Heard lost a deal she'd had with Amazon for film, an endorsement deal, and a beauty campaign with L'Oreal.

“No one out loud can say they're taking this away from her because you know of this bad press," Kovacevic said when asked of the connection to Waldman's comments. "Because it's nothing she did, and it's all hearsay ... but there’s no other reason."

Heard's career did not take off after the success of "Aquaman," despite the fact that it was a blockbuster hit, Kovacevic said. The agent said it was abnormal that someone with already moderate success would not get a number of endorsement deals or movie offerings after being a co-lead in such a large movie franchise.

"In my experience, and the experience of my colleagues ... your career takes a turn after something like that," Kovacevic said. "She was very well received in the movie at the time. Everyone was very happy with her at the time. There was no issues. And then to have a complete downturn after that, and then have that coincide with constant tweets and negativity put out about her."

"I don't have a physical piece of paper of evidence but it's the only logical conclusion I can draw," Kovacevic said.

Heard followed all legal advice to avoid op-ed related lawsuits, lawyer says

45d ago / 8:51 PM UTC

Lawyer Eric George testified that Heard followed all his advice legal advice to avoid any lawsuits from a 2018 op-ed she penned for the Washington Post.

That opinion piece is at heart of Depp's defamation lawsuit now being heard in a Northern Virginia courtroom.

In a 2021 deposition that was played for jurors on Thursday, George said he spent significant time reviewing Heard's piece so that there'd be no "meritorious claim that could be brought against her," especially against any potential defamation lawsuit.

"She affirmatively did follow, in all instances, my counsel in respect to these particular edits," said George.

Ellen Barkin describes Depp's jealousy, behavior during their brief sexual relationship

45d ago / 7:47 PM UTC

Actor Ellen Barkin testified that she became friends with Depp in the 1990s and developed a brief sexual relationship with him after she moved to Hollywood in 1994.

Barkin said that she saw Depp multiple times a week over the course of several months and that he was a "jealous" and "controlling" man.

"I had a scratch on my back once that he got very, very, angry ...he insisted it came from me having sex with a person who wasn't him during that time," Barkin said.

Barkin said that she saw Depp become out of control during an argument while they were filming "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Depp threw a wine bottle across a hotel room in the direction of her and other people at the time.

Disney exec denies Heard op-ed led to decision to remove Depp from 'Pirates of the Caribbean'

45d ago / 7:32 PM UTC

Tina Newman, production executive at The Walt Disney Studios, denied that any decision-maker at the company led the company to keep Depp out of the sixth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film.

Depp’s attorneys have claimed that Depp suffered monetary damages in the form of a lost deal with Disney over being dropped from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” due to Heard’s op-ed.

Newman was responsible for gathering documents as a corporate designee for Disney and testified that none of the documents she saw had reference in any manner to the 2018 opinion-editorial written by Heard in 2018.

"Are you aware of any decision maker outside of Disney — and by this I'm including producers, directors, people of that ilk — who have ever said they were not considering Mr. Depp for 'Pirates' six or any other movie because of Amber Heard's op-ed from December 2018?"

"No," Newman responded.

Heard's former attorney says she received 'very mean' call from Depp

45d ago / 7:17 PM UTC

Michelle Mulroney, Heard's former attorney, said she was representing Heard in post-nuptial agreement discussions when Depp called to fire her on Heard's behalf.

Mulroney said she was working on Heard's behalf in February 2015, emailing back and forth with Depp's attorney over the contract. California is a community property state, generally meaning that each party had 50 percent stake in earnings made during that marriage, Mulroney testified.

Heard was filming a project but had agreed to a confidentiality agreement requested by Depp's legal team and had asked for information regarding his potential earnings for the deal, according to emails from Mulroney.

Mulroney received a "very mean" phone call from Depp in which he said he was firing her on behalf of Heard, she testified.

"Well, my only exact recollection is he called me a bitch,” Mulroney said when asked to describe that she meant by "very mean" call.

Mulroney said that she believed Depp was inebriated during the call because of his slurred words and speech pattern.

“I just was extremely rattled by the call," Mulroney said. "I was on the phone for a very short time … I didn’t want to be rude but I told him I had to hang up like, after two or three minutes. After I realized what was happening.”

Depp did not have the authority to fire Mulroney, she testified, but her working relationship with Heard ended within a few days time.

During his testimony, Depp testified that Heard had been distraught over conversations regarding a post-nuptial agreement. He said that she told him that he was "trying to trick her into getting nothing if something were to happen."

Depp testified that she instigated the argument in March 2015 between the couple that led to his finger being severed in Australia.

Witness testifies about negative hashtags related to Heard

45d ago / 7:08 PM UTC

Ron Schnell, director of Berkeley Research Group, testified on Thursday that he examined hashtags related to Heard and Depp from April 2020 to January 2022, during which he noticed more than 2 million negative tweets related to Heard.

That included usage of the hashtags “JusticeForJohnnyDepp,” “AmberHeardIsAnAbuser,” “WeJustDontLikeYouAmber” and “AmberTurd.”

Testimony resumes with computer programmer taking stand

45d ago / 5:59 PM UTC

Testimony resumed after lunch on Thursday with noted computer programmer Ron Schnell taking the witness stand.

Schnell is the director of Berkeley Research Group. He’s been brought to the stand to testify as an expert about statistical and forensic analysis of social media.

Court breaks for lunch

45d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Court adjourned at about 12:40 p.m. ET for an hourlong lunch break.

Heard's last witness prior to the break was Marie Sadanaga, the domestic violence coordinator for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Sadanaga offered general background on how police officers are instructed to respond to suspected domestic violence calls, even if a potential victim does not wish to submit to an interview or press charges.

Depp's former attorney declines to elaborate on Daily Mail comments

46d ago / 4:19 PM UTC

Adam Waldman, Depp's former attorney, claimed attorney-client privilege when asked questions about the comments he made in the Daily Mail that Heard's abuse allegations are a "hoax."

Those three statements to the Daily Mail made in 2020 are the center of Heard's countersuit against Depp. Waldman admitted to making the comments quoted to him by Heard's attorney.

"Did you make these statements on Mr. Depp's behalf?" Heard's attorney asked.

Waldman was instructed not to answer to protect communications made under attorney-client privilege.

"What were you trying to convey to the press making these statements?" Heard's attorney asked.

Waldman was instructed not to answer to protect communications made under attorney-client privilege.

"Did you discuss these statements with Mr. Depp before making these statements?" Heard's attorney asked.

Waldman was instructed not to answer to protect communications made under attorney-client privilege.

"Was Mr. Depp aware either before or after that you were making these statements?" Heard's attorney asked.

Waldman was instructed not to answer to protect communications made under attorney-client privilege.

"Did Mr. Depp ever ask you to retract or correct these statements?" Heard's attorney asked.

Waldman was instructed not to answer to protect communications made under attorney-client privilege.

Depp's former attorney addresses Twitter suspension

46d ago / 4:17 PM UTC

Johnny Depp's former attorney Adam Waldman said during a February video deposition that he was suspended from Twitter "for life."

Waldman was asked about having a Twitter account. He said he previously had one, but was unable to pinpoint exactly how long he had it for or when he created an account.

He said he was suspended from the social media platform.

"I wrote several letters to Twitter to ask why I was suspended for life from their platform," he said. In response, he said Twitter told him that he had violated its policies.

Adam Waldman, Depp’s former attorney and subject of countersuit, testifies

46d ago / 3:50 PM UTC

Adam Waldman, who represented Depp and claimed Heard’s allegations were a “hoax” in statements to the Daily Mail in 2020, provided video testimony that was played for the court on Thursday.

The video deposition occurred in February 2022, but Waldman was instructed by another member of Depp's legal team on numerous occasions to not answer certain questions due to attorney-client privilege protections.

Waldman said he met Depp after his divorce settlement with Heard was reached. He said he represented him in his lawsuit against Depp's former business manager and other suits.

In response to Heard's attorney saying Waldman had no personal knowledge of Depp and Heard's relationship, he said, "I wasn’t there if that’s what you mean."

Speaking generally, Waldman agreed with Heard’s attorney that it is up to a client to determine whether to follow an attorneys advice or not.

Waldman was instructed not to respond to questions about his role in Depp's lawsuit against The Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom, his interactions with Rolling Stone magazine on behalf of Depp regarding a 2018 interview, and whether it was Depp's decision to file lawsuits.

Depp became increasingly 'less filtered' and erratic, former business manager said

46d ago / 3:38 PM UTC

Depp's former business manager, Joel Mandel, testified that he saw the actor's behavior became erratic and displayed "disproportionate" reactions to things.

"I felt things were less predictable," Mandel said. "I felt like you know I was professionally in a place where I never knew day-to-day what to expect."

Depp's behavior began to change around 2010, according to Mandel, and at some point it appeared clear to Mandel that Depp's "use of alcohol and drugs became a daily event," he said. Depp's stretches of sobriety helped but that Depp began to express his discontent in an aggressive manner.

Mandel said that Depp became increasingly "less filtered."

"People moderate their behavior, they might moderate their behavior in public because things are inappropriate in particular settings … my experience was that Mr. Depp became increasingly less constrained," Mandel said. "Less concerned with whether he was going to upset someone's feelings or, or just increasingly comfortable venting in an aggressive way when he was upset or disappointed with something."

Depp's former business manager testifies on actor's finances, spending

46d ago / 3:22 PM UTC

Joel Mandel, a former business manager who met Depp around 1999 and worked with him until 2016, testified to Depp's income and spending during the time they worked together.

During his testimony, Mandel denied accusations that he stole money from Depp or failed to file required tax returns on Depp's behalf. He also testified that he was never charged or found liable for malpractice during his time with Depp.

The former business manager described how Depp's lifestyle changed as his star began to rise, saying the increase in income came with increased spending to maintain a lifestyle.

"I don't want to fix dates. It's a long stretch of time," Mandel said. "But that meant a bigger life. It meant more employees. That meant buying additional property, buying additional personal property ... a bigger life and more expensive."

Depp spent about $10,000 a day on his personal security guard, Jerry Judge, Mandel testified, offering examples of how much Depp's new lifestyle could cost. During the time Depp employed a personal doctor and nurses to help his sobriety, he spent $100,000 a month.

There became a point when Depp's income could no longer support his lifestyle, Mandel said, requiring the business manager to require severe cutbacks.

"The spending levels had grown very, very, very large and require that level of incredibly high income to be maintained," Mandel said. "And when it dropped off, that disconnect became untenable."

Depp would acknowledge over numerous conversations that changes had to be made, Mandel said, but often commitments to adjust to new circumstances fell short. The actor's financial situation became relatively dire between July 2015 and when Mandel was terminated in March 2016, Mandel confirmed.

Mandel testified that he was unable to pay Depp's taxes in October 2015.

"His financial circumstances in 2015 had reached a point where I was extremely concerned and was on a very regular basis was expressing that concern," Mandel said. "And it seemed as I increased my level of expressing that concern, there was anger directed, you know, in my direction. And so, my warnings in 2015 that we were in very dire circumstances were not met very favorably."

Depp's former agent describes his 'unprofessional behavior' on sets

46d ago / 2:31 PM UTC

Tracey Jacobs, Depp's former agent, testified about the difficulties in representing the actor in the last 10 years of their professional relationship over his behavior.

"All I know is he essentially terminated everyone in his life, and I was along for the ride, I guess," Jacobs said of Depp firing her after working together for roughly 30 years.

Jacobs described Depp as being "extraordinarily talented" in his ability to understand certain roles and how to master what scripts and filmmakers would make sense for him. But she said the last decade of the working relationship, which ended in 2016, became difficult.

She testified that Depp had anger issues that worsened over time and that she spoke to him several times regarding his "unprofessional behavior" on sets. The behavior included being unprepared as well as his drug and alcohol use, she said.

"Showing up late to set consistently on virtually every movie," Jacobs said. "I would get yelled at. I never said to him, 'You're a difficult client,' but I was very honest with him and said, 'You've got to stop doing this. This is hurting you.' And it did."

Jacobs said she flew to Australia twice during the filming of the fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie over issues with Depp's behavior.

The film industry is a "small community" and "people talk," Jacobs said, hurting Depp's ability to get new work. She testified that Depp's "star had dimmed" over the bad reputation.

Depp's former friend describes his drug use

46d ago / 2:15 PM UTC

The first witness called to the stand Thursday for Heard's defense was Bruce Witkin, a longtime former friend of Depp.

Witkin said he had been close friends with Depp from about 1982 to 2018, saying Depp was probably his best friend at a point. He wasn't sure what ended their friendship but said Depp sent him a text saying Witkin had "stabbed him in the back" and never explained it.

"I didn't get to have the conversation with him, 'What are you talking about?'" Witkin said. "I know he wasn't happy with my testimony, but I wasn't going to lie."

During their friendship, Witkin said he observed Depp abusing substances and recommended Depp get sober and go into therapy. Depp got sober a few times, Witkin said.

"In my experience, it’s deep-rooted issues he’s dealing with," Witkin said. "It had nothing to do with Amber, in my opinion."

Witkin also said he had concerns that the man Depp hired to help him get sober, Dr. David Kipper, was running a "scam." While Depp was working with Kipper to detox from opiates, Witkin said he knew Depp was still using other substances.

"It just seemed weird to me there was weed and wine in the soberness," he testified.

He also spoke of his surprise when he saw Depp using cocaine, for the first time in 2014 and again in 2016.

"I was quite surprised because when we were kids, he hated it," Witkin said. "But then after that when I said, 'Why are you doing this?' he kind of hid it from me for a long time."

Trial resumes

46d ago / 1:32 PM UTC

The trial is back in session Thursday morning as court resumed with Heard's defense.

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