Johnny Depp Fans ‘Damaged’ His Reputation by Unsealing Documents—Lawyer

Johnny Depp fans may have inadvertently damaged the actor’s reputation by paying to have pre-trial documents unsealed, a lawyer has said.

The actor was enjoying a newfound career boost and surge in popularity during and after his multimillion-dollar defamation trial against ex-wife, Amber Heard, but now documents that were not shown in court have been published online containing a plethora of new revelations—and they do not show Depp in a favorable light, for the most part.

Some of the bombshell revelations uncovered in the documents include Depp refusing to wear a mask during Heard’s deposition, Depp’s texts to Marilyn Manson about Heard and Depp’s attempt to use Heard’s stint as a stripper against her in court.

They also included accusations of photo editing on Depp’s part, as well as claims that he suffers from erectile dysfunction and that would lead to him becoming violent.

“I believe the unsealed court records released over the weekend damaged Johnny Depp more as it appears that certain, unsealed court records dealt primarily with irrelevant information regarding Heard, which juries can sometimes resent as a form of victim shaming,” Frank Salzano, entertainment attorney at New York City-based Salzano Lampert & Wilson LLP, told Newsweek.

Johnny Depp's fans affect his reputation
Johnny Depp’s fans mob the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 26, 2022 (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images). Depp, seen leaving court the next day, was embroiled in a legal battle against his ex-wife Amber Heard (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images).
Getty Images

While Seattle-based attorney Kirk Davis added: “If the fans thought unsealing the records was going to significantly help Depp, they were certainly mistaken.”

Newsweek has contacted Depp’s representatives for comment.

The files were unsealed and published online by Andrea Burkhart, a criminal defense attorney in Washington State who provides legal color commentary on her YouTube channel.

Burkhart obtained more than 6,600 pages of recently unsealed documents and published them on her website because “the public has an interest in being able to assess the merits of her [Heard’s] complaints about the court system.”

the Aquaman actress officially filed a motion last month at the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia, to appeal the defamation trial ruling she lost to her ex-husband.

“Certainly, if the system is not fair and did not treat a party fairly, then that is something that we would want to know,” Burkhart said in a statement shared with Newsweek.

The cost to open files maintained by the circuit court in Virginia is $0.50 per page, Burkhart confirmed, and she tweeted on July to say she would be paying $3,300 for the Depp-Heard files and those interested could contribute to the cost.

“The enthusiasm for accessing copies of the documents was rapid and overwhelming, and sufficient funds were raised within hours; excess funds totaling $7,000 were donated to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Art of Elysium, two charities that were impacted by the trial. I again thank the hundreds of generous people who donated,” she said in her statement.

Burkhart’s tweet was filled with comments from many people publicly supporting Depp to say that they had contributed.

Newsweek has contacted Burkhart for further comment.

The unsealed documents have been the subject of a great deal of interest online and also revealed further details about Depp’s severed finger and the couple’s divorce settlement,

They also suggested Depp said that his ex-wife never harmed him, which appears to run contrary to what was suggested during the couple’s defamation trial in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Twitter user @cocainecross created a viral thread that laid out a number of facts that appeared damning to Depp and his legal team.

Despite the enthusiasm of Depp fans about the unsealing of the documents, a number of lawyers told Newsweek that this has damaged him and benefited Heard.

“Obviously, Amber Heard benefited more when court documents were unsealed from her trial with Johnny Depp because she lost the trial and is now appealing both in court and in the court of public opinion,” Andrew M. Lieb, attorney at Lieb at Law, told Newsweek.

“The irony is that Depp’s fans apparently paid to gather these unsealed documents in an effort to shame Heard. However, their strategic calculation was off in that they failed to realize that Ms. Heard had already reached her low from her trial loss and she had nothing left to lose at this juncture.”

Carole Lieberman, a forensic psychiatrist and expert witness, feels that “people are attacking these unsealed court documents like a band of hungry hyenas, looking for shreds of meat to shed negative light on Johnny or Amber, depending upon who they liked least.”

She told Newsweek: “The unsealed documents tarnish Johnny more than Amber because Johnny came out a hero during trial, and these documents make us question whether he’s as pure as we want to believe.”

Lieberman said that Depp’s fans “got more than they bargained for” by paying to unseal the documents and “would undoubtedly pay to have them resealed if they could to try to make them go away.”

Johnny Depp v.  Amber Heard documents unsealed
Johnny Depp is pictured main in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 25, 2022. Amber Heard is pictured inset in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 26, 2022. Thousands of pages of documents from the former couple’s recent defamation trial have been unsealed.
STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images;/MICHAEL REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

She added: “It’s not that the documents reveal shockingly bad information about Johnny, it’s that we want to hold onto the perfect image of him as the underdog who won against the Big Bad Witch.”

Following a televised trial in Virginia that concluded in late May, the jury ruled largely in Depp’s favor on June 1, awarding him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, while Heard, who had countersued for $100 million for nuisance, was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages by the jury. The punitive damages against Heard were later reduced from $5 million to $350,000 under a Virginia law that caps such damages.

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