ACLU seeks $86,000 from Johnny Depp for legal fees following subpoenas

A verdict in Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit against Amber Heard may have been read, but the aftermath is far from over.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a nonprofit civil rights organization that made headlines for its role in the lawsuit, is seeking $86,000 in legal fees from Depp after he prepared and provided documents his legal team had subpoenaed for use in the case.

Court documents say the majority of the requested funds would be used to pay legal fees after three ACLU witnesses testified following subpoenas from Depp’s legal team.

A summary of expenses explains that senior partner Michael Schwartz worked 38.7 hours at a rate of $799.50 per hour for a total of $30,940.65.

A junior associate worked 78.6 hours at a rate of $500.20 per hour for a total of $39,315.72, a litigation support manager worked 17.1 hours at a rate of 336.20 $ per hour for a total of $5,749.02 and a litigation support analyst worked 31 hours at a rate of $295.20 per hour for a total of $9,151.20, according to the documents judicial.

“The ACLU is entitled under New York law to seek reimbursement of reasonable costs associated with complying with Mr. Depp’s subpoenas. We are seeking reimbursement far less than what it cost to the ACLU to produce the thousands of pages of documents that Mr. Depp’s attorneys have requested,” the ACLU wrote in an email to FOX television stations.

A jury last week sided with Depp in his lawsuit against ex-wife Heard, awarding the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ actor more than $10 million and vindicating his claims that Heard lied about Depp abusing her before and during their brief marriage.

Depp sued Heard for defamation in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post describing himself as “a public figure representing domestic violence”. His lawyers said he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.

Most of the article deals with public policy as it relates to domestic violence, and Heard’s attorneys say she has a First Amendment right to intervene.

The ACLU wrote the article under Heard’s name, reflecting her role as the ACLU’s ambassador on gender-based violence issues.

Terence Dougherty, general counsel for the ACLU, testified that numerous ACLU attorneys reviewed the article at various stages and asked Heard’s lawyers to also review the article to ensure that it does not didn’t violate a nondisclosure agreement she had with Depp as part of the couple’s 2016 divorce.

During those discussions, Heard returned an edited version approved by his attorneys that “specifically castrated much of the copy relating to his marriage,” according to an email from Jessica Weitz, an ACLU staffer who coordinated with Heard.

In the first passage, Heard writes that “two years ago I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and felt the full force of our culture’s anger.” Depp’s lawyers call it a clear reference to Depp, given that Heard publicly accused Depp of domestic violence in 2016 – two years before she wrote the article.

In a second passage, she says, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

The jury ruled in favor of Depp on all three of his claims regarding specific statements in the 2018 article.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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