Johnny Depp verdict: Legal expert thinks ACLU ‘potentially liable’ for Amber Heard op-ed at center of trial

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Actor Johnny Depp won his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard this week when a jury found her liable for defamatory comments she made against her ex-husband in a 2018 op-ed published in the Washington Post and a prominent legal guru feels the American Civil Liberties Union could also be in hot water after it was revealed the non-profit played a key role in the saga. “I think one of the underreported aspects of this, it has been reported, but maybe not as much focus, is that the American Civil Liberties Union, apparently from the testimony and other things, had some hand, maybe a major hand in drafting this op-ed and put aside any potential liability for them. Why are they doing this? Why is the American Civil Liberties Union getting involved in this Hollywood couple’s fight? And I think people need to really ask what has gone wrong at the ACLU, that this is what they’re spending their time on,” Cornell Law Professor William A. Jacobson told Fox News Digital. When explaining that Heard hasn’t fulfilled her commitment to donate $3.5 million from her divorce settlement to the ACLU, the organization’s COO and general counsel Terence Dougherty said in pre-recorded testimony that the ACLU actually drafted the now-infamous op-ed at the center of Depp’s defamation case.
Johnny Depp won his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard when a jury found her liable for defamatory comments she made against her ex-husband in a 2018 op-ed published in the Washington Post.
((Photo by Cliff Owen/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images))JOHNNY DEPP VERDICT: LEGAL EXPERTS BELIEVE WASHINGTON POST COULD BE HELD LIABLE TOO, BUT CASE WOULD BE TRICKYDougherty testified that the ACLU named Heard an “ambassador on women’s rights with a focus on gender-based violence” and essentially served as ghostwriters for the Washington Post op-ed that a jury has since found liable for defamatory comments made against Depp. The jury awarded Depp a total of $15 million and the Post has since added a lengthy editor’s note to the op-ed as legal experts have debated whether the Post could also be liable for publishing the piece. But Jacobson, who founded Legal Insurrection, feels the ACLU could “be just as liable” as the newspaper. “If the ACLU had the major hand in drafting this — that appears to be what happened — then they would be just as liable, potentially, as The Washington Post. Maybe more so because they had a hand in drafting it,” Jacobson said. Dougherty and the ACLU did not immediately respond to a request for comment. JOHNNY DEPP VERDICT: WAPO SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR DEFAMATORY AMBER HEARD OP-ED, DAVE PORTNOY SAYS
The American Civil Liberties Union helped actress Amber Heard draft the op-ed at the center of Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit. 
(Michael Reynolds/pool via Reuters)Criminal defense attorney Brian Claypool told Fox News Digital that Depp should bring legal action against the Post to set a precedent for similar cases going forward. Jacobson feels the decision not to go after the paper owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos was a strategic one, because it would be difficult to prove editors knew Heard wasn’t be truthful and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star seemingly wanted to put his ex-wife on trial. “The issue there, again, would be with the ACLU, which presumably was relying on what Amber Heard was telling them. Did they act with reckless disregard for the truth? So I don’t think it’s a different analysis. It’s just that Johnny Depp obviously made a decision not to name them, viewing Heard as the primary culprit,” Jacobson said. ELON MUSK WEIGHS IN ON DEPP-HEARD TRIAL: ‘I HOPE THEY BOTH MOVE ON’”So whether they do or they don’t have potential liability, I think is something we may never find out,” Jacobson continued. “But I think people who have long held up the ACLU as some sort of paradigm of virtue have to wonder what has gone wrong at many different levels with that organization.”
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard before their split.
(AP)University of San Francisco School of Law professor Lara Bazelon also scolded the ACLU in a piece for the liberal Atlantic magazine. “The ACLU’s bestowal of an ambassadorship and scribe-for-hire services upon a scandal-plagued actor willing to pay seven figures to transform herself into a victims’ advocate and advance her acting career—Heard pushed for a publication date that coincided with the release of her film Aquaman—is part of the group’s continuing decline. Once a bastion of free speech and high-minded ideals, the ACLU has become in many respects a caricature of its former self,” Bazelon wrote. “I used to be a proud card-carrying member of the ACLU. Today, when its fundraising mailers and pleas to reenroll arrive in my mailbox, I toss them in the recycling.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPFox News’ Brie Stimson and Rebecca Rosenberg contributed to this report. 

Mojtaba Sadira

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