It might have been the most boneheaded move a real lawyer has made during a televised trial since Christopher Darden asked O.J. Simpson to try on the gloves.
In Johnny Depp v Amber Heard, a defamation case between the two formerly married actors, Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft held up a makeup kit and said “This is what Amber carried in her purse for the entire relationship with Johnny Depp.”
Milani Cosmetics then released a video on TikTok stating that the Conceal & Perfect All In One Correcting Kit Bredehoft held was not manufactured during the couple’s turbulent relationship.
“That was a huge mistake,” Limor Mojdehiazad, host of the “Love & Order” podcast and a legal analyst on Netflix’s limited series “Depp v Heard,” said of the decision to show the kit. “Everything you present, you have to triple check. You don’t just trust your client who says, ‘I used this’ because you have to make sure the other side can’t poke holes in your argument. If you’re going to hold something up in your opening statement and put that in the jury’s mind, you can’t later, say ‘well it’s just an example.’ She never had to hold it.”
Mojdehiazad a graduate of Southwestern Law School, practices family law, and had planned to start a podcast with a friend, but it fell through. With the hullabaloo around the Depp/Heard trial she knew it as the right time to start the “Love & Order” podcast by herself.
Depp sued Heard for defamation over a 2018 Op-Ed she wrote in The Washington Post titled: “I spoke up against sexual violence-and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” While she didn’t mention her ex-husband by name, the jury found that she defamed him, but that Depp, who was countersued by Heard, was vicariously liable, due to statements by his former lawyer, Adam Waldman.
“It wasn’t surprising that Johnny won all counts,” Mojdehiazad said. “I was shocked they actually gave Amber a win on one count. That was a bit confusing.”
As someone who watched the entire trial, I find it befuddling that Netflix only produced three episodes; they had enough material for ten episodes. The documentary will likely be criticized for not displaying a specific point of view, but that’s an unfair criticism. When the choir is singing off-key there’s not always a need to preach.
The series is worth watching. Many believe that Heard placed her own or other human fecal matter or what Depp referred to as a “grumpy” on his side of the bed. A driver who was on Depp’s payroll said Heard told him it as a practical joke that went wrong. The documentary shows a part of the transcript from the London trial where it was clear Depp’s dog had bowel problems. Also, Heard alleged Depp kicked her while flying from Boston to Los Angeles, but employee Keenan Wyatt said he could not recall that. Text messages of Depp’s assistant saying Depp kicked her were not admitted in the trial, as their authenticity was in question.
“Of course, the witness who could have really helped Heard’s credibility doesn’t remember,” Mojdehiazad said of Wyatt “There’s no way to know what happened on the plane. With the fecal matter, there’s also no way to know its origin, but it was damaging to Amber because many believed it was hers, and that if she’s willing to that, she’s probably screwed up, and less likely to get sympathy.”
There are no new interviews in the documentary, but we learn that Depp’s team wanted the trial to be televised and Heard’s team did not. I would have liked to hear the reasoning of Judge Penney S. Azcarate. I believe all trials should be televised or none should be. Why should some be able to reap benefits of a victory or others have the humiliation of a defeat, while others don’t get the same opportunity for a public win or get spared a shellacking.
And what of women’s rights advocates who say that irrespective of whether Heard’s testimony was true or false, the result was a vilification of Heard that may increase female abuse victim’s reluctance to come forward?
“It’s very difficult,” Mojdehiazad said. “I think any time the topic of domestic violence is in a case that is open to the public, many will say it doesn’t match with their story. They will say Amber shouldn’t have done this, or Johnny should not have done that. The hope is that anyone abused would come forward, but we know many do not … Perhaps none of these cases should be on television.”
In the documentary, one can see Heard frequently staring at the jury, something Depp rarely did. Did this make Heard look like a phony?
“Clients are advised to connect with the jury,” Mojdehiazad said. “But she went way overboard and that did not help her.”
A moment that went viral is shown in the series: When a former TMZ employee was asked by Bredehoft if he was testifying for his 15 minutes of fame. He turned it around on her, replying that could also be the reason she took the case. The attorney was mocked on social media for looking unprepared.
“I thought it was a great question to ask him,” Mojdehiazad said. “If he hadn’t been watching the case, he would have answered differently. There was a lot of laughing and doodling and unprofessional things that usually don’t fly with judges. I think he knew he could talk back to her. He knew nobody cared about Amber and he was going to sound cool with whatever he said.”
The series also shows Bredehoft saying — without any definitive proof — that the jury must have looked at social media.
“Maybe it’s partially sour grapes on her part, but you had people of all ages for one of the biggest trials ever,” she said. “There was a 10-day break. Come on. No way members of the jury didn’t see some things on social media. Did it impact the result? I don’t know. In hindsight, you could say the jury should have been sequestered, but nobody knew what the trial would become.”
She said she was impressed by Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, for her cross examination of Heard and the closing statement of Heard’s attorney, Ben Rottenborn.
Heard admitted to hitting Depp twice, saying that the second time, she was protecting her sister, and was fearful, since she had heard a rumor that Depp had pushed Kate Moss down the stairs. Moss would deny this via video link. Depp did not dispute a text to friend Paul Bettany, saying Heard should be burned.
What kind of woman would marry a man she thought threw his ex-girlfriend down the stairs. What man would marry a woman he jokes should be burned to death?
“It was a toxic marriage and relationship between two people,” Mojdehiazad said. “I think it goes beyond the money and the fame. I think at the core of their relationship, they had this darkness in their personalities that attracted one to the other, no matter what.”
The Beverly Hills High School graduate said she has always wanted to fight for justice and loves being a lawyer.
“I’m Jewish, I’m loud, I have opinions and I’m not shy,” she said. “I have a passion for advocacy and telling the truth. I sometimes have clients who don’t have the balls to say what they want to say to other side, and I tell them, ‘don’t worry, I can do it for you.’”