Amber Heard has hired new lawyers as she is appealing the $10 million verdict awarded to Johnny Depp in their fight against defamation — a move that experts say could benefit the “Aquaman” actress.
Heard, 36, has sued David Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown, of the national law firm Ballard Spahr, which successfully represented the New York Times against the libel suit of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
They will aid Heard as she fights to overturn the largely unfavorable verdict handed down against her by a jury following the ex-couple’s bomb trial in Fairfax, Virginia.
Virginia attorney Elaine Bredehoft, who represented Heard at the trial, will leave the team, a spokesperson for the actress said.
“A different court justifies a different representation, especially since so much new evidence is now coming to light,” the representative said.
Texas civil attorney Katherine Lizardo, who closely followed the trial, said she expected the change in the legal team and noted that it would benefit Heard.
“This is a good move for her, because it would give her a different legal position than the counsel for the trial,” Lizardo told The Post.
Professional lawyers are a “different breed” of lawyers who are experts in the “nuanced and specialist” area of law, Lizardo explained.
“If Amber Heard didn’t hire a lawyer familiar with the appeals system, she would lose,” she said.
Lizardo also noted that it takes a certain attitude to argue an appeal case — which in Virginia only allows each side 15 minutes to speak before a panel of three judges.
“Elaine Bredehoft’s style at trial and her time management issues wouldn’t work on appeal,” Lizardo said. “We’ve seen when Elaine would wander or argue about unrelated matters and that would be very detrimental if she argued the same way before the appeals court judges.”
New York citizen attorney William Newman told The Post that Axelrod and Brown’s maneuvers in Palin’s case against the Times indicate what type of strategy the legal team will use in Heard’s appeal.
The attorneys had focused on trying to prove that statements about the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate in a Times piece were not made with genuine malice — which is a higher legal standard applied to cases involving public figures.
“By selecting a lawyer who famously made that argument in the Sarah Palin case — that tells me that” [actual malice] will be something they’re likely to focus on in this call,” Newman said.
Still, Newman said it’s smart that Heard is still holding on to one of her Virginia attorneys from the trial, Benjamin Rottenborn.
“I think it’s a good choice,” Newman said of hiring Axelrod and Brown. “Ballard Spahr is a very well regarded firm. She is in good hands.”
“It’s still very good that local Virginia lawyers are also working on it,” Newman added.
Former California Court of Appeals judge and current criminal defense attorney Halim Dhanidina told The Post that hiring new attorneys for an appeal is routine and has many benefits, including gaining the expertise of a career attorney and getting a fresh look at the profession. matter.
A trial attorney “is almost too close to the cases.” said Dhanidina. “Whereas an appellate specialist may be able to look at what happened in the lower court and may have a different perspective or strategy for how to succeed on appeal.”
“What an appellate-level attorney might want to do is that some of the strategies or actions taken by the trial attorney and the trial attorney are clearly not in a position to criticize. or to pose their own doubts. actions,” noted the former judge.
The 59-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor won a $10.35 million verdict in June, with a jury siding with his claims that Heard defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being a victim. of domestic violence.
While she didn’t specifically mention Depp in the essay, his side argued at trial that it was clearly referring to her allegations that he abused her around their 2016 divorce.
The jury awarded Heard $2 million in her counterclaims that Depp defamed her when his attorney Adam Waldman called her claims a hoax.
Bredehoft did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.