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Amber Heard switches up legal team for appeal of Johnny Depp trial verdict

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Amber Heard is switching up her legal team for her appeal of the June 1 verdict in the high-profile defamation case between her and ex-husband Johnny Depp.

The Aquaman actress has hired attorneys David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown, of Ballard Spahr, as her appellate counsel, according to a press release.

“We welcome the opportunity to represent Ms. Heard in this appeal as it is a case with important First Amendment implications for every American,” Axelrod and Brown said in a joint statement. “We’re confident the appellate court will apply the law properly without deference to popularity, reverse the judgment against Ms. Heard, and reaffirm the fundamental principals of Freedom of Speech.”

Ben Rottenborn, of Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black, is staying on as co-counsel while Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, of Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Nadelhaft, is stepping down. Rottenborn and Bredehoft represented Heard during the initial defamation trial.

“This is the perfect time to pass the baton,” Bredehoft said in a statement. “I have pledged to Amber and her appellate team my complete cooperation and assistance as they move forward on a path towards success.”

A spokesperson for Heard said in a statement, “When it comes to protecting the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech, we look at the jury’s decision — to paraphrase a famous quote — not ‘as the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.'” They added that “a different court warrants different representation.”

The jury largely sided with Depp in its June 1 verdict, ordering Heard to pay Depp more than $10 million in damages. Depp was ordered to pay his ex-wife $2 million in damages.

Heard filed a notice of appeal on July 21, with Depp filing a notice of appeal the following day.

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