Amber Heard Appealing Depp Verdict a 'Smart Strategic Play'—Lawyer

Amber Heard is making a "smart" and "strategic" move by appealing the verdict of her defamation battle against Johnny Depp, according to a legal expert.

The Aquaman actress officially filed a motion on Thursday at the Circuit Court of Fairfax County to appeal the defamation trial ruling she lost to her ex-husband.

"We believe the court made errors that prevented a just and fair verdict consistent with the First Amendment. We are therefore appealing the verdict," a spokesperson for Heard said in a statement. A spokesperson for Depp responded to the motion, telling Newsweek last week that his team is "confident" in the jury's decision.

Newsweek has since spoken with two lawyers about the case. One of them said that Heard's decision to appeal the verdict is the right thing to do from a financial point of view, but both said the appeal is unlikely to be successful.

Johnny Depp, Amber Heard
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. She has filed a motion to appeal the defamation trial ruling she lost. Getty Images

During the blockbuster trial, both parties were found liable for defamation. The jury awarded Depp $10 million in damages and only $2 million to Heard, and since the decision, Heard fought unsuccessfully for a retrial, citing issues with the June ruling.

Heard attempted to request a retrial on the basis that the original trial was illegitimate, citing several different reasons, including an allegation that one juror had committed fraud. All of the claims, including the issues with the juror, were ruled to be insufficient.

Attorney Andrew M. Lieb said he agreed with Heard's team's moves, but he stressed that her appeal "isn't a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination."

"Amber Heard should 100 percent appeal her defamation trial loss against Johnny Depp because she has an as of right ability to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Virginia and failing to make the filing is an acknowledgment that she is stuck with a $10.35 million verdict against her," Lieb told Newsweek.

"She is arguing improper juror service, but only on a technical basis, and absent a causal showing that the sitting of the juror resulted in bias or prejudice against her, the verdict will not be reversed," Lieb added. "Simply, it's a difficult appeal because the Court of Appeals gives deference to the trial judge who already refused an application for a retrial on this issue."

Nevertheless, Lieb called the appeal a "smart strategic play" because it may give Heard "the leverage that she needs to negotiate a reduced judgment with Mr. Depp's attorneys."

Brian Wagner, a partner at McLoughlin, O'Hara, Wagner & Kendall LLP agreed that Heard having a successful appeal would be "rare and unlikely."

"This Notice of Appeal is just a preliminary step, I expect the actual perfected appeal will be much more specific and focused on limited trial issues," Wagner told Newsweek.

"The difficulty in an appeal is not only proving the court erred but also that the error caused a big enough error that the verdict was likely impacted. In short, that is rare and unlikely in this case."

Newsweek has contacted representatives for Heard and Depp for comment.