FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) – Johnny Depp’s lawyers describe the actor as upfront about his past substance abuse, a man with nothing to hide. That may be more true than ever after a Virginia judge ruled Friday that he must give his ex-wife’s attorneys access to medical records related to his alcohol and drug use.
Lawyers for Amber Heard, co-star of the 2018 blockbuster movie “Aquaman,” contend that Depp has refused access to records they need to help the actress fight her ex-husband’s $50 million defamation lawsuit.
Depp, 56, sued Heard, 33, in March over a 2018 editorial published in The Washington Post in which Heard wrote of the repercussions she faced after speaking out about domestic abuse. While she never named Depp, he claims the editorial was clearly about him and sought $50 million in damages. The complaint was filed in Fairfax County, Virginia Circuit Court because The Post is printed there.
Heard has claimed Depp was violent during their marriage and that his outbursts were inextricably intertwined with substance abuse. But Depp has so far refused to produce communications with his doctor about such abuse, according to a Sept. 27 memo filed by Heard’s lawyers supporting her motion to compel.
In his lawsuit, Depp charged that Heard threw a vodka bottle at him and that it struck the middle finger on his right hand and shattered the bones. This is the sort of charge Heard’s lawyers seek to counter.
“Ms. Heard deserves the right to test those allegations,” her attorney, Benjamin Rottenborn with Woods Rogers, said in court Friday.
Depp’s attorney, Robert Gilmore of Stein Mitchell, countered that the Oscar-nominated actor “has owned his past struggles.” Gilmore argued that Heard’s lawyers are on a fishing expedition.
But Fairfax County Chief Judge Bruce White ruled from the bench in favor of Heard’s motion to compel Depp to produce the relevant records and documents, saying her lawyers should have access to them.
After the hearing, another one of Depp’s attorneys, Benjamin Chew with Brown Rudnick, said they would comply.
“We look forward to discovery,” he said.
Another member of Heard’s legal team, Roberta Kaplan of Kaplan Hecker & Fink, said they are “very pleased” with the ruling and called Depp’s discovery arguments “nonsensical, as if he were the one being sued.”
“But it is Mr. Depp who started this lawsuit on the theory that Ms. Heard somehow made up all the abuse that forced her to obtain a restraining order against Mr. Depp back in 2016,” Kaplan said in a statement. “Now that the facts in his own lawsuit are making him uncomfortable, Mr. Depp wants to hide evidence commonly understood to be connected to incidents of domestic violence: his decades-long abuse of drugs and alcohol, his past history of violence, and medical records showing among other things the laundry list of prescription medications he takes daily and injuries from his drug-induced rages.”
Heard’s court filing from last month notes that Depp’s attorneys said at a Sept. 13 hearing that the actor “has nothing to hide.” But the memo claims that, in addition to the medical records, he has also not produced “evidence of violence, abuse, or destruction of property with his other romantic partners.”