Heard's Lawyers Revised Article at Heart of Libel Case

ACLU lawyers says organization drafted op-ed on domestic violence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2022 6:06 AM CDT
Heard's Lawyers Revised Article at Heart of Libel Case
Johnny Depp arrives in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 28, 2022.   (Michael Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)

Amber Heard pushed to have details of her marriage with fellow actor Johnny Depp included in an op-ed piece that she wrote about domestic violence, even though her lawyers wanted those passages removed from the article. Jurors in the libel lawsuit Depp filed against Heard heard testimony Thursday from Terence Dougherty, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, the AP reports. It was the ACLU that drafted the article under Heard's name, reflecting her role as an ACLU ambassador on gender violence issues. Dougherty testified about the push-and-pull that occurred between first draft and publication of the op-ed piece in the Washington Post in December 2018.

Dougherty testified that numerous ACLU lawyers reviewed the article at various stages, and asked Heard's lawyers to review the piece as well to ensure it did not run afoul of a non-disclosure agreement she had with Depp in connection with the couple's 2016 divorce. During those discussions, Heard sent back an edited version approved by her lawyers that "specifically neutered much of the copy regarding her marriage," according to an email from Jessica Weitz, an ACLU employee who coordinated with Heard. According to the email, though, Heard was looking for a way to have a deleted passage restored to the article.

Much of Dougherty's testimony also centered on whether Heard has fulfilled a promise to donate $3.5 million—half of her $7 million divorce settlement with Depp—to the ACLU. Dougherty testified that the ACLU credits her with contributing $1.3 million so far and expected the money to come in over a 10-year period, but that she has made no contributions since 2018. Dougherty said a $500,000 payment made in 2017 apparently came from Elon Musk, who dated Heard after her split from Depp, Deadline reports.

(More Amber Heard stories.)

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