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Johnny Depp’s legal woes seem to have no end in sight — with the actor now squaring off with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over $86,000 in legal fees.
After a bombshell trial, a Virginia jury awarded Depp $10.35 million in damages, finding that his ex-wife Amber Heard defamed him in a Washington Post op-ed ghostwritten by the ACLU.
The non-profit was subpoenaed in the case, and a New York state judge ordered the charity to turn over documents and produce witnesses, including Chief Operating Officer Terence Dougherty for a deposition.
The ACLU is now suing Depp for $86,253.26 in legal fees in Manhattan Supreme Court— the amount the charity says it cost to comply with the subpoenas.
This included reviewing over 7,500 documents and producing three witnesses, including Dougherty, for lengthy depositions, according to the ACLU.
The piece, which was penned by an ACLU lawyer, didn’t identify Depp by name but stated he had abused her.
Although the ACLU was not a party to Depp’s defamation suit against Heard, the charity’s role in drafting and pitching the op-ed to the Washington Post was central to the litigation. Heard requested that the piece’s publication date coincide with the release of her film “Aquaman.”
The charity’s tally included the cost of creating a “privilege log” that identified 160 items that were withheld due to a “common interest privilege over communications” between ACLU lawyers and Heard’s attorneys.
The actor’s legal team has accused the ACLU of “coordinating and assisting Ms. Heard in litigating Mr. Depp’s defamation suit” then charging him for it, they wrote in court papers.
Lawyers for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star called the $86,000 sum “exorbitant and unreasonable” but agreed to pay $1,096.67 for third-party data hosting fees.
In the latest motion filed June 14, the ACLU argued that Depp’s subpoenas were overly “broad and burdensome,” and the charity’s preparation of a “privilege log” to comply with the discovery demands are perfectly reasonable.
The ACLU came under fire during the trial, with critics calling the charity complicit in Heard’s alleged deception.
After Heard pledged $3.5 million to the charity – half of her $7 million divorce settlement, the organization named her an ambassador on women’s rights and gender-based violence.
She later claimed on a Dutch TV show that she had given away her entire divorce payout as promised: half to the ACLU and the other half to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Daughetry admitted in his deposition played for jurors that Heard had only directly donated $350,000. The organization credited her with donating $1.3 million — the bulk of which came from her ex-boyfriend, tech billionaire Elon Musk.
Depp’s lawyer, Ben Chew, argued in court that the ACLU helped Heard coverup her false claims, saying the charity “played a reprehensible role in this case.”
It was also revealed during the trial that Heard only coughed up $250,000 of the $3.5 million she pledged to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
A juror, who spoke anonymously to Good Morning America, called her false claim she had made the donations a “fiasco.”
“It’s one thing, Your Honor, for her to stiff the ACLU,” Chew said in court. “It’s quite another for her to fail to honor her obligation to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, with sick and dying children, and that she failed to do as well.”
The ACLU was once considered a bastion of free speech — notably defending the right of neo-Nazis to rally in Illinois.