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Virginia Press Association Wants in on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Case

Johnny Depp's attorney Adam Waldman, calls the growing number of participants in this case "powerful co-conspirators."

Some have asked me why I pay so much attention to the Depp/Heard case. It would be easy to say because both actors have played pivotal and beloved characters in $billion+ genre film franchises and this site is devoted to such movies. I could also say that women near and dear to me have experienced what allegedly Heard has. I’ve seen them exhibit the same behavior, the constant cycle of abuse and forgiveness and the excuse-making, until they were lucky enough to escape with their life intact.

But what really made me sit up and notice this case was Johnny Depp filing a defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard for an editorial about domestic abuse. Honestly, their high-profile divorce was barely a blip on my radar back in 2016 but when I heard about Mr. Depp’s lawsuit, I (and others) immediately recognized the chilling effects a case such as Depp’s can have on the press.

Apparently, so has the Virginia Press Association. According to legal documents obtained by The Blast, The VPA has filed a request to be heard in the case via amici curiae.

According to the VPA, it has a “strong interest in the outcome of this case, which involves a claim of defamation by implication arising from an op-ed published by The Washington Post, a member of the VPA.”

“Even though Johnny and Amber have no significant ties to the Commonwealth of Virginia,” it continues, “The VPA and its media members, on the other hand, reside and work within the Commonwealth, and the outcome of this defamation by implication case could have a significant effect on those journalists and their work within the Commonwealth.”

The VPA contends filing an amicus curiae brief is necessary to “discuss the elevated chilling risks for allowing public figure plaintiffs like Mr. Depp to state a claim for defamation.”

In a statement, Johnny Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman, who formerly worked for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, calls the growing number of participants in this case, “powerful co-conspirators.” Deripaska is known to have been in close contact with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort during the 2016 presidential election. Manafort is currently serving a federal prison sentence.

The VPA is asking the court to allow lawyers for the organization to be heard before a hearing on November 8, 2019.

Roberta Kaplan, Founding Partner, Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, and counsel for Ms Heard, said: “Because Mr. Depp has brought an incoherent and legally baseless lawsuit against her in Virginia, Ms. Heard has had no choice but to defend herself. We welcome the action of the Virginia Press Association, an independent group of more than 200 newspapers, for seeking to weigh in about the important First Amendment principles at stake in this case. This is what happened—Ms. Heard wrote an op ed about the horrible backlash that many women face when they speak the truth about powerful men. By dragging her through this meritless lawsuit, Mr. Depp only continues to prove her point.”

RELATED: In Court Petition, Johnny Depp is Accused of Making Hush Money Payments to Witnesses

About the author

J Davis

J is a former rock star, former DJ, comic book & political historian, and novelist who once read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlocked the secrets of the universe.


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  • The VPA’s president is also part of the Washington Post’s leadership, the very ones who allowed Ms Heard’s op-ed claiming to be a victim to be published. Bit of bias there with the VPA Also, Ms Heard’s new lawyer once represented Weinstein. Somehow didnt notice THESE connections also?

    • The VPA doesn’t have a president. Their highest ranking officer, Betsy Edwards, is their Executive Director. She is not affiliated with the Washington Post

      Steve Stewart, the president of their board of directos, is Sr. Vice President of Boone Newspapers, a group of 20+ newspapers around the country.

      Their board’s vice president and president-elect is Jay Kennedy, Vice President, General Counsel & Labor at The Washington Post. Such roles seldom, if ever, make editorial decisions.

      Their Vice-President, Chad Harrison, is Co-Director of Operations The Star-Tribune, Chatham.

      In fact, each of their board members, as well as their executive staff, have decades of media experience in newspapers across the country. Your conspiracy theory against Johnny Depp would be more relevant if you were accusing the entire newspaper industry. All have a stake in whether Depp’s case sets a precedent.

      Yes, we know Ms Heard’s new lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, once represented Weinstein, but in a case totally unrelated to the #timesup and #metoo movement and at a time before Weinstein’s sex assault scandals broke.

  • Geek the Dog, the Hero! We appreciate you: “Women near and dear to me have experienced what allegedly Amber Heard has. I’ve seen them exhibit the same behavior, the constant cycle of domestic abuse and forgiveness and the excuse-making, until they were lucky enough to escape with their life intact.”

    The best side is Amber’s side. She made the right choice to finally report after so long! Los Angeles can be a scary place. She’s also connected to the United Nations, ACLU, and many great organizations.

    Also, activists may appear strong, but they need to be defended too. Also, we do know Waldman also met with Julian Assange, before he was sent to jail. They just seem like criminals to me. Let Amber be with better people, already.