Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial: Court told ACLU only received half of promised $3.5m donation from divorce

Watch live as Johnny Depp’s defamation case against Amber Heard continues

The trial in Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard has resumed in Fairfax, Virginia, with further video depositions being played to the court.

Heard is being sued by Depp for $50m (£38.2m) for implying he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.  Although she did not name him, he claims her allegations made it difficult for him to land movie roles.

On Wednesday, their former agent Christian Carino testified that he felt Heard’s allegations had caused Depp to lose work but did not tie this directly to the op-ed. He also revealed he set up a meeting between the pair two months after Heard filed a restraining order against Depp.

Mr Carino said Heard was dating Elon Musk during the time she was attempting to reconcile with her ex and he had advised her dating famous men meant things would be public.

Further testimony was given by two police officers who responded to a domestic violence call at the couple’s penthouse in May 2016. They said they found no evidence of a crime, Heard was “uncooperative”, and did not want to file a report.

Heard is yet to testify and provide her own account of the relationship.

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Court resumes and jury returns.

Mr Dougherty’s video testimony continues with a change of tack. He is asked about messages between the communications team at the ACLU about working with Heard.

The idea for the op-ed is discussed.

Mr Dougherty is asked why Heard was suggested for the topic of victims of gender-based violence during the Trump administration.

It is suggested that if she feels comfortable she could use her personal story. Mr Dougherty says she had previously expressed her experience of gender-based violence.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:51

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Depp trial witness baffles court as he vapes in car during testimony

In one of several viral moments to come out of the ugly legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the testimony of the concierge at their former building stood out on Wednesday.

Alejandro Romero works at the front desk of the Eastern Columbia Building in Downtown Los Angeles where Depp owned five penthouses and lived with Heard for three years.

In pre-recorded deposition played to the court, he appeared frustrated as he answered questions from his car while vaping and clearly did not want to be bothered.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:40

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Depp’s lawyer Ben Chew indicates that there will be a change in direction in Mr Dougherty’s video testimony and Judge Azcarate calls a mid-morning recess.

Court resumes at 11.45am.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:29

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No press release was sent out by the ACLU about the $3.5m pledge by Heard following an email from her saying there was no need to do so.

Mr Dougherty says Heard did not pay on an annual basis and there have been no payments from 2019 onwards.

Asked if the ACLU has made any efforts to get Heard to pay, Mr Dougherty says they reached out to her in 2019 for the next installment and learned that she was having financial difficulties.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 16:12

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When Depp sent a donation on behalf of Heard, the ACLU held onto the cheque while they confirmed if it was indeed supposed to be in her name or listed a donation from Depp.

Heard confirmed the situation and the amount was credited to her total pledge.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 15:54

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The op-ed was drafted and reviewed by four attorneys before being sent to The Washington Post, Mr Dougherty says. He was not involved in this process, those who were, specialise in women’s rights issues.

Returning to the donations, it was thought — based on an email from Elon Muk who was connected to the donor-advised fund that contributed $850,000 on behalf of Heard — that the $3.5m would be paid over the course of ten years, though this was never confirmed.

Documents shown in the deposition include a thank you note to Heard for the plans to donate $3.5m and another is a pledge form and schedule regarding the donation.

The pledge schedule was not signed by Heard, but there are other documents that show Heard being aware of the 10-year commitment.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 15:41

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With the promise of such a large donation — which Mr Dougherty acknowledges was not reached by December 2021 — Heard was proposed as an ambassador for the ACLU following her initial donations.

“Ms Heard spoke with such clarity and expertise on issues of gender-based violence, that [ACLU representatives] decided she would be an appropriate person to ask to become an ACLU ambassador,” he said.

It was then that the idea of the op-ed at the centre of the defamation case was conceived.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 15:25

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Mr Dougherty breaks down Heard’s payments to the ACLU regarding the promise that $3.5m of her $7m divorce settlement would be going to the organisation.

He says $350,000 was paid directly by Heard; $100,000 was paid via Depp; $500,000 was paid via a donor-advised fund; and $350,000 was also paid via a donor-advised fund.

A total donation of $1.3m.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 15:18

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New witness: Terence Dougherty, general counsel and COO, ACLU

The first witness today is Terence Dougherty, from the American Civil Liberties Union. He is appearing in a prerecorded video deposition filmed in December 2021.

He is being questioned first by Depp’s team and then Heard’s.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 15:07

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Court is back in session in Fairfax, Virginia, with Judge Penney Azcarate presiding.

The jury is being brought in.

Oliver O’Connell28 April 2022 15:02

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