New documents filed today with the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, VA in the ongoing legal adventures of Johnny Depp reveal actress Amber Heard is opposed to her ex-husband’s motion to delay their trial. The filing also reveals Heard is set to reprise her role as Mera when Aquaman II begins production in Spring 2021.
Those following this case are no doubt aware Mr. Depp and his legal team asked the court in documents filed on August 21 to move his defamation trial against Ms. Heard so he can join the production of the latest Fantastic Beasts film. The court case is set to begin in Fairfax County, Virginia, on Jan. 11, to “sometime between March and June 2021.” However, the legal counsel for Heard have now responded and are protesting any such change of dates.
“Plaintiff (Johnny Depp) elected to bring this suit in Virginia, and as such, necessarily agreed to adhere to the Rules of this Court. This Court clearly communicated to the parties they would be treated the same as all litigants appearing in this Court,” the new filing states. “Yet Plaintiff now requests this Court to effectively stay these proceedings (and delay Plaintiff’s deposition) for five months while he travels to the UK for business. This is not good cause under Fairfax Practice Rule F. 1.02(g), and granting the request would set a highly problematic precedent.”
“On August 7, 2020, Plaintiff was properly noticed for deposition lasting up to 5 days. Plaintiff was invited to inform of any conflicts or alternative dates. Counsel for Defendant (Amber Heard) learned through Warner Bros’ counsel, not through Plaintiff, that Plaintiff has no intention of appearing at his deposition.”
The court filing goes on to state when parties to litigation face conflicts, they must find solutions so that scheduled court dates are prioritized, yet Mr. Depp made no effort whatsoever to accomplish this. The documents reveal Ms. Heard and her team reached out to Warner Bros. counsel and learned Depp had been contacted in late July with the proposed filming dates but he did not tell them the trial dates, or the date of the deposition. Instead, he waited until now. Essentially, rather than speak with his employer (Warner Brothers) to work his film commitments around his deposition and trial, and in spite of his being the Plaintiff in this action, Depp instead stalled, then asked this Court to subserviently reschedule the suit Depp himself brought around the entire film schedule and production of his upcoming film.
This is a prime example of why so many states have enacted Anti-SLAPP laws, which are intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate or bankrupt people with legal fees who are exercising their First Amendment rights. Heard’s legal counsel explains in the filing that the Mera actress will be significantly prejudiced should this continuance be granted. “She has expended a significant amount of legal fees and costs defending this litigation, which will only increase exponentially with a five-month hiatus and continuance. Heard’s career has virtually halted, with the exception of Aquaman II — which she was told months ago would begin filming in February 2021. Warner Bros counsel said they do not know when Aquaman II will begin filming, but it will be sometime in the Spring of 2021.”
If postponing the case for five weeks to accomodate Depp is a good cause to do so, then so it would also be if the trial runs into Heard’s filming schedule for the upcoming DC superhero sequel.
Perhaps most interesting is Heard’s legal team pointing out the case has already been postponed twice due to the Covid pandemic, which constitutes a good reason for such actions. However, a third continuance because of Depp’s work schedule, then a fourth if the new trial dates conflict with Heard’s schedule, may not sit well with the judge in the case who believes “the maintenance of strict calendar control leads to a more expeditious and efficient administration of justice.”