Celebrity news outlet TMZ has lost its bid to prevent a former employee from testifying in the The Innocent Pirate and Amber Heard defamation case.
The California-based news organisation filed an emergency motion asked a judge to block the emplyee from being called as a witness by Mr Depp’s lawyers based on “journalist’s privilege”, according to court papers.
Lawyers for TMZ write that the company wants Morgan Tremaine prevented from taking the stand in the case in Fairfax, Virginia, and “disclosing TMZ’s privileged information” during testimony.
Judge Penney Azcarate heard arguments on the motion in court on Wednesday and ultimately denied the request because TMZ is not a party to the case and its arguments have no bearing on the defamation claims.
In the motion, TMZ said that their concern relates to an article it published on 12 August 2016, entitled “The Innocent Pirate Goes Off On Amber…Smashes Wine Glass, Bottle.”
The court papers state that TMZ was provided a video by a “confidential source” andthat the company had promies to ensure confidentiality and “would not disclose their name”.
In the video, which has been brought up during the trial, Mr Depp is seen slamming cupboard doors and throwing a wine bottle.
During cross-examination, Mr Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez grilled Ms Heard about the leak and it is likely the actor’s team will try to find out exactly where the video came from.
The defamation trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on Monday 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia, following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019.
Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”.
Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”. Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.