Court told Amber Heard ‘wanted to add more details about Johnny Depp’ in editorial after it was edited by lawyers

Amber Heard reportedly wanted a section pointing to her relationship with Johnny Depp to be put back in her 2018 editorial on domestic violence after edits were made by lawyers to remove references to the marriage, the jury in the couple’s defamation trial learned during Chief’s testimony. operational officer of the ACLU.

The trial between Depp and Heard began on April 11 in Fairfax, Virginia, following Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019. Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 editorial published in The Washington Post titled “I Speak Out Against Sexual Violence – and I Faced the Wrath of Our Culture. That has to change”.

Terence Dougherty, chief operating officer and general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), appeared in court on Thursday via pre-recorded testimony filmed in December last year. He spoke about how the ACLU’s inner council helped write and revise Ms. heard.

Heard was announced as an ACLU ambassador in December 2018 around the same time her editorial was published. The ACLU was one of two organizations, the other being a children’s hospital in Los Angeles, to which she pledged to donate her $7 million divorce settlement. How much of that amount was actually donated was questioned in court on Thursday.

Dougherty received an email from then-ACLU communications officer Gerry Johnson who asked for information about Ms. Heard write an opinion piece on the topic of gender violence. Dougherty said that Heard agreed to serve as an ambassador and that ideas were being developed for her to write a column.

“If she feels comfortable, she can weave her personal story together,” the email states.

Among various messages shown to Mr. Dougherty is an email from an ACLU staff member sending a draft of the column.

“I tried to gather his fire and anger and a really interesting analysis and mold that into an opinion form,” the team member writes in the email.

Dougherty said during his testimony that he understood that “fire and anger” referred to gender-based violence and not specifically to Depp.

Dougherty was asked if it was his “understanding that it was the ACLU staff member who prepared the first draft of the editorial?”

After a brief pause, Dougherty said “yes”.

“Your lawyers should review this for the way I got around talking about your marriage,” an email states, adding that they hope it doesn’t interfere with the confidentiality agreement Heard signed regarding their divorce.

The court was informed that the first draft of the editorial was amended following a meeting between Ms. Heard and employee Robin Shulman.

Dougherty said Shulman spoke about personal experiences with Heard that she used in the column.

He was then asked if Heard’s advisers had changed a draft to remove any references to their marriage.

Dougherty said he remembers messages that suggested edits be made to Heard’s confidentiality agreement.

“It’s also true that there were some in the ACLU who expressed their belief that excising these references to Johnny Depp’s marriage and divorce made the editorial less impactful, correct?” Mr. Dougherty was questioned during his deposition.

“That is correct,” he said, adding that the editorial that ended up being published in Opposite is “very different” from previous drafts and “did not directly refer to Ms. Heard with Johnny Depp.”

The court was informed of another email from an ACLU staff member who wrote that Heard had returned the column with his lawyers’ final edits that “neutralized” many of the references to his marriage.

Although Dougherty said he wasn’t sure whether the word “castrated” was used, he said lawyers removed references to Heard’s divorce and marriage.

“The goal is to release this this week to capitalize on the tremendous campaign for Aquaman,” a separate email said, referring to the film Heard starred in and which was released in the US on December 21, 2018.

Dougherty said Heard would be the subject of an “incredible amount of press”, meaning it was an opportune time to increase publicity.

“Every step of the way we were making these decisions with Amber’s PR representatives,” he said.

In a December 11, 2018 email read to Dougherty during his deposition, Heard reportedly expressed a desire to “artificially” reinsert sections pertaining to obtaining a temporary restraining order from her “then-husband” two years earlier. But she said she was fine with the final draft if that wasn’t possible.

Ms Heard’s editorial was published under the title I spoke out against sexual violence – and faced the wrath of our culture. That has to change.

Dougherty said he doesn’t know anything about the title, but he thinks someone in the Opposite wrote.

He was then shown a usa today article that linked the column to Mr. dep.

Despite considerable attempts by Heard’s lawyers to remove any references to Depp and his marriage, the public still made that connection, Dougherty said.

“So much not to mention JD,” an ACLU staff member wrote in an email. Dougherty said he also interpreted Heard as referring to Depp.

“As far as I know, Ms. Heard involved his lawyers and made editorial changes based on the advice of his lawyers…” he said.

In her 2018 editorial, Heard wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted when I was in college. But I kept silent – ​​I didn’t expect the filing of grievances to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.”

“Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse and felt the full force of our culture’s anger at women speaking out,” she added at the time.

Although Depp is not named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Depp is seeking damages of “no less than $50 million.”

Heard has filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.

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