Depp v. Heard Attorneys Reflect on Verdict 2 Years Later: ‘I’d Like to See Society Correct Itself’ (Exclusive)

Amber Heard on June 24, 2023; Johnny Depp on May 17, 2023. VIANNEY LE CAER/DEADLINE VIA GETTY; CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP VIA GETTY

Johnny Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez and Amber Heard’s attorney Elaine Charlson Bredehoft reflect on the controversial case.

  • It’s been two years since the Virginia jury handed down its verdict in the Depp v. Heard defamation case
  • Johnny Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez and Amber Heard’s lawyer Elaine Charlson Bredehoft look back on the case in interviews with PEOPLE
  • The attorneys see differently on issues of cameras in courtrooms and societal takeaways from the trial’s outcome

Two years later, the verdict in Johnny Depp’s defamation case against Amber Heard continues to be polarizing.

On June 1, 2022, the six-week trial in Fairfax, Virginia culminated in a shocking reveal: The jury sided mostly with Depp, finding Heard liable for defamation in her Washington Post op-ed about surviving abuse, though she didn’t mention her movie-star ex-husband by name in the article.

Heard won one of her three counterclaims. He was initially awarded over $10 million in damages, and she, $2 million. After months of appealing from both, the two reached a settlement by the end of 2022: They’d drop it all and Heard paid $1 million to Depp, who divvied that up to five different charities.

A source close to the matter says there are no longer any loose ends in the litigation — all is finalized and behind them.

PEOPLE caught up with two key players from the Virginia trial — Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez, and Heard’s attorney Elaine Charlson Bredehoft — to reflect on the outcome two years removed.

The contentious case, which was televised live in front of millions, “showed that winning in the court of law is very important, obviously, but winning the court of public opinion is equally — if not more — important,” says Vasquez.

Bredehoft, though, sees allowing cameras in this courtroom as a “huge mistake” that led to social media users skewing public perception and taking moments “out of context.” She says she “fought hard” against having cameras present and now feels “social media completely hijacked that trial.”

Vasquez acknowledges that the viral memes and online fodder that came out of the trial were “manipulated” or made to be “comical.” However, it was “still responding to actual evidence” presented in the courtroom, she says.

She’s all for cameras being allowed inside — “We should have an ability to see justice at work” — and Vasquez doesn’t think social media shaped any notions that weren’t already prevalent: “Public opinion was swayed by the credibility of these two people and who … the public at large believed and who they didn’t believe.”

It was Depp who pushed for the cameras. Explains Vasquez, “I know how personal and how invasive some of the topics that we talked about were for both of them, for both Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard.” But, she adds, it was “incredibly important” that Depp be able to reach his fans “and show them the evidence that the jury was evaluating.”

Says Bredehoft: “You should never have cameras in a courtroom for sexual assault or domestic violence [cases]. I hope that the rest of the world has figured that out and that mistake won’t be repeated.”

Directly after the verdict, Heard expressed “disappointment” in a written statement, calling the outcome a “setback” to “a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.”

Depp, in his message at the time, said, “I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation.”

Bredehoft, who teamed up with Ben Rottenborn on the case, recalls, “I can’t tell you how much I admire Amber because the first thing she said was, ‘I am so sorry that I have let all these women, all these victims down.’ That was the most important thing to her, was that she felt like she had let them down.”

Vasquez, who worked on the trial alongside Benjamin Chew, says she takes “issue” with claims that the verdict will have negative ramifications for people who come forward with abuse allegations in the future.

“What we showed definitively is that domestic abuse has no gender,” she says, adding, “We wanted to right the ship. We saw a terrible injustice taking place, and that’s what this verdict really was about: clearing his name once and for all, showing the jury, first and foremost, but also the world who was the real victim in this relationship and what he had suffered.”

On the other hand, Bredehoft is holding out hope that one day people will look back at the trial with a different lens.

“At some point, I would like to see society correct itself, right itself,” she says. “They should be seeking out Amber, bringing her back, making sure she can be a success again. She was a success before all of this, and she can be a success, but she needs the world to reach out to her too and to say, ‘We’re sorry. We recognize this. We want to do the right thing. We made a mistake when we made these judgments.’ I’d love to see that.”

Today, 60-year-old Depp is in a creative comeback of sorts: His movie Jeanne du Barry had its release after opening the Cannes Film Festival last year, he’s directing a new film, and he’s continuing with music and art while living in London.

Heard, now 38, is living a quiet life in Spain with her 3-year-old daughter, after appearing in an indie thriller and the Aquaman sequel, filmed prior to the trial.

“I think the way things have resolved for both of them is the right outcome,” says Vasquez. “Johnny deserves every success and more that he’s received as a result of this verdict. And I don’t wish Ms. Heard any harm whatsoever, and I never will.”

“I wish her peace,” she adds. “And I know that’s what Johnny wishes her as well.”

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