johnny depp

Breaking Down 6,000 Pages of New Depp-Heard Case Files

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Vanity Fair and Daniele Venturelli/Getty Image

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s defamation trial ended two months ago, but the drama surrounding their dueling legal claims continues. Recently unsealed documents in the case suggest that both sides wanted to dredge up even more alleged embarrassing details during the six-week trial. Legal commentator Andrea Burkhart posted an approximately 6,000-page tranche online several days ago. The filings give glimpses into Depp’s and Heard’s respective legal strategies and a sense of what Judge Penny Azcarate decided to allow in — and prohibit from — court. Meanwhile, Heard has filed paperwork indicating that she will appeal the verdict, which awarded Depp more than $10 million for his defamation claims. (The documents were verified by several media outlets but, aside from Burkhart’s website, are only available to be seen at the courthouse. Neither Depp’s nor Heard’s team responded to requests for comment.) Here are some details jurors didn’t get to hear about, pulled from the documents Burkhart posted.

Nude photos

In a March 2022 filing, Heard’s attorneys said Depp “inappropriately seeks to introduce evidence of … irrelevant personal matters.” One of these matters was “nude pictures” of Heard. The photos “have no bearing on any material fact in this dispute,” Heard’s lawyers said in arguing against their admission. “They are irrelevant, very personal, and would tend inappropriately to objectify Amber Heard — which is demeaning and would definitely detract from the issues in this case — of whether Depp committed domestic abuse.”

Alleged stripping

Heard’s lawyer said in this same 965-page filing that Depp wanted to bring up evidence of “Amber’s brief stint as an exotic dancer years before she met Mr. Depp and Mr. Depp attempting to maliciously suggest or imply that Ms. Heard was at one time an escort.” According to the document posted by Burkhart, Heard’s lawyer said, “Allegations that Amber Heard was an escort are unfounded, incendiary, irrelevant, and designed to harass and demean Amber Heard and Ms. Heard’s brief stint working at a strip club just after moving to LA to start her acting career also has nothing to do with her relationship with Mr. Depp years later or whether he abused her.” Of the purported nude photos and alleged dancing, they wrote, “Nude pictures of Amber Heard or comments about stripping or escort services would be highly distracting and unfairly prejudicial to the extent they portray Amber Heard as a sex symbol instead of a women’s rights activist against domestic abuse.” At one point in the document, her lawyers describe this as “allegations of exotic dancing.”

Romantic history of Heard’s sister

The same lengthy document indicates that Depp hoped to discuss not only Heard’s past romantic relationships at trial, but also those of her sister, Whitney Henquirez. Heard’s lawyer, in pushing back against these efforts, argued, “Whomever Amber or Whitney dated prior to 2011 (i.e. before Amber Heard met Mr. Depp) is wholly irrelevant; Amber and Whitney’s prior romantic relationships are far removed in time and subject matter from this case.” This filing also indicates that Depp wanted to bring up Henriquez’s “reality show video.” Details about this recording are scarce, but the document indicates that it dates from “high school,” which Heard’s attorneys emphasized could not “shed any light” on the facts of the case. “Amber Heard’s sister’s alleged reality video is likely to confuse or mislead the jury by focusing on third-party relationships (not the relationship between Amber Heard and Mr. Depp),” Heard’s legal team said. “The reality video likely would unfairly prejudice Amber by minimizing the grave domestic abuse allegations at issue.”

Texts with Marilyn Manson

During the trial, Depp’s friendship with Marilyn Manson repeatedly came up, which largely bolstered Heard’s claims about the actor’s drug use and its impact on his behavior. Depp was pretty flip about the whole thing. “One of your good friends that you’ve taken drugs with before is Marilyn Manson, right?” Ben Rottenborn asked. Depp replied, “Yes. We’ve drank together. We’ve had cocaine together maybe a couple of times … I once gave Marilyn Manson a pill so that he would stop talking so much. Sorry.” As it turns out, Depp wanted “to exclude all references to and evidence relating to Marilyn Manson” from court. This makes sense in terms of strategy, given that it would be hard to spin the content of their texts as mere comic repartee. “I got an amber 2.0,” Manson said in one text to Depp, according to a document posted by Burkhart. “Lindsay just pulled an amber on me….please delete.” Depp replied, “I been reading A LOT of material on that and sociopathic behavior…it is fucking real my brother! My ex-cunt is a goddam TEXTBOOK!!!”

Manson then continues by saying that he has “a serious police amber type scenario with L’s family. I’m fucking stressing. I don’t know if you are back but I need asylum somewhere because I think the cops might be headed my way…Lindsay pulled an amber and she filed a police report.” Manson also allegedly wrote, “She is pulling amber and the cops are gonna show up to serve me a restraining order.”

Depp’s alleged erectile dysfunction

Heard’s team wanted to discuss Depp’s alleged erectile dysfunction, arguing that it was “relevant” to her accusation that he sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle during the Australia trip. “Though Mr. Depp would rather not disclose his erectile dysfunction condition, such condition absolutely is relevant to sexual violence, including Mr. Depp’s anger and use of a bottle to rape Amber Heard,” her attorneys wrote. “Mr. Depp’s erectile dysfunction makes it more probable that Mr. Depp would be angry or agitated in encounters with Amber Heard, and that he would resort to a bottle.” They said that mentioning this alleged medical condition would not improperly sway the jurors against him. “The relevance is not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice,” they wrote. “The erectile dysfunction is not likely to generate a ‘strong emotional response’ that would make it ‘unlikely that the jury could make a rational evaluation of its proper evidentiary weight.’”

Depp’s severed finger

During the trial, Depp’s severed finger became a key point of contention. Depp’s and Heard’s defamation claims stemmed from allegations of abuse and whether one or both of them was lying about it; this alleged incident occurred in 2015 in Australia. Depp claimed that Heard, angry after a discussion of a postnuptial agreement, hurled a bottle of vodka at him after she spotted him drinking, lopping off the tip of his digit. Heard’s team brought up evidence to argue that Depp actually cut off his own finger.

The documents that Burkhart posted brought renewed attention to deposition testimony from Jennifer Howell, Whitney Henriquez’s former boss. Howell’s recollection of Henriquez’s reaction to the finger news suggested that Heard was indeed responsible. Howell, according to the document posted by Burkhart, was near Henriquez at their office when she said Heard had “done it now” in response to a text about the finger news. Henriqez “just screamed she’s done it now. She’s cut off his God damn finger, and made this huge proclamation,” Howell reportedly said in her deposition. “And I pushed my chair back. I was, like, What?” Howell continued. “And she goes, ‘She cut off his finger. She cut off his finger.’ And then she bolted out the door and was, like, I got to call somebody. I got to call somebody.”

Breaking Down 6,000 Pages of New Depp-Heard Case Files