As Johnny Depp and Aquaman-star Amber Heard’s legal teams continue to meet in a Virginia courthouse to litigate the ongoing defamation lawsuit brought by Depp against Heard, Depp’s legal team claims that Heard’s lawyers attempted to “blackmail” Depp with photos of Depp engaged in drug use in order to pressure the actor into dropping their opposition to Heard’s requested protective order.
According to The Blast, Depp’s legal team was approached by Heard’s attorney’s, led by Roberta Kaplan, outside of a Virgnia courthouse prior to a hearing regarding Depp’s lawsuit. During this meeting, sources claim that Kaplan presented Depp’s team with several photos, taken during the course of the couple’s relationship, which depicted Depp smoking an unidentified drug from a glass pipe in one photo and displayed alleged drugs and paraphernalia located in his home in the others. Sources told The Blast that Kaplan informed Depp’s team that, if they did not rescind their opposition to the full protective order requested by Heard, these photos would be presented to the judge.
Depp’s lawyers declined, and the photos were presented in court by Kaplan, who first raised the issue by asking to approach the bench and present “highly confidential” items to the judge:
“These are highly confidential, Your Honor, so I just don’t want anyone else to see them. So, Your Honor, what I’ve just shown you are photos that are really just the tip of the iceberg that we would produce in this case. There are many, many more like them.”
Kaplan continued, noting that the pictures were “good for us” but would better serve Depp if they were sealed from the public, alongside evidence against Heard, under the protective order.
“I wanted to show them to, Your Honor, because it should give Your Honor a very good sense of the kind of information we’re dealing with here. We obviously think these photos are good for us, help us prove our case, but we don’t think that they should be out on the Internet today, or they should be out in press articles.”
Outraged by this tactic, Depp’s legal team responded, classifying the photos as “an inducement to try to get us to drop our motion” and stating that the photos “don’t relate to Ms. Heard.”
“Your Honor, the photographs that were, shown as an inducement to try to get us to drop our motion, don’t relate to Ms. Heard. They relate to Mr. Depp. Mr. Depp has nothing to hide. He has testified about his substance abuse. He owns that. And it’s absolutely – I thinks it’s outrageous, Your Honor they tried to do that. They didn’t come here with materials relating to Ms. Heard.”
Adam Wadlman, Depp’s attorney, provided a statement to The Blast following these court proceedings:
“Amber Heard’s #Timesup lawyer Roberta Kaplan prefaced a court proceeding in which she unsuccessfully sought to hide abuse hoax and violence evidence with a blackmail attempt. Brandishing undated photos in the courthouse, one of which appeared to show Mr. Depp (who has spoken openly in interviews of his past painful struggles and recovery from drug addiction) smoking a pipe years ago. Ms. Kaplan’s threat was simple: drop your opposition to keeping the evidence secret or we will show the judge these pictures. When Kaplan’s threat was rebuffed, she followed through on it, as the transcript shows.”
However, Kaplan issued a response to Waldman, denying his assertion of blackmail and claiming that “Mr. Depp’s legal team has grossly mischaracterized our discussions.”
“Mr. Depp’s legal team has grossly mischaracterized our discussions. Before the hearing, we showed them certain photographs to express our astonishment that Mr. Depp was opposing entry of a standard protective order that would preserve BOTH parties’ privacy as we engage in discovery prior to trial. We did not threaten to ‘release’ any photographs, including photographs showing Mr. Depp using illegal drugs. Instead, we presented certain photographs to the Judge during the hearing in order to explain that a protective order would make sense in this case. Indeed, we were very careful with the contents of the photographs in court— we did not display them to anyone other than the Judge or even describe them on the record. And we have not “released” them to anyone. Unfortunately, when lawyers like Mr Depp’s make false and inflammatory accusations and distort information about what happened in court or evidence in the case, all that they accomplish is to threaten the integrity of the judicial process.”
The trial date for the ongoing defamation case has been set for February 3rd, 2020.