Heard has accused Depp of physically and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions before and during their brief marriage. The former “Pirates of the Caribbean” star sued after Heard made an indirect reference to those accusations in an op-ed piece she wrote for The Washington Post.
Heard has since filed a countersuit against Depp, accusing his lawyers of defaming her at his direction.
From an attorney whose clientele includes Cher to one who has represented movie studios, the counselors representing these A-listers are stars in their own right.
Here’s a look at who the actors have retained to fight their legal battle and the judge presiding over the case who is a former Marine:
Judge Penney Azcarate
Depp and Heard are battling it out Honorable Judge Penney Azcarate’s courtroom.
In light of the very high-profile case where Elon Musk, James Franco and Paul Bettany may also testify, Judge Azcarate has imposed a series of access rules to try to maintain decorum in her courtroom.
Neither Depp nor Heard are permitted to pose for photos or sign autographs in the courthouse or on the courthouse grounds.
However, as those who have been viewing the trial are aware, cameras are allowed in the courtroom, despite an effort by Heard’s team to exclude them.
Judge Azcarate also ruled against Heard’s team’s multiple attempts to dismiss the defamation suit. In 2021, the judge described those efforts to dismiss as “misguided” and “puzzling.”
So who is Azcarate, the judge presiding over Heard v. Depp? According to her bio, Azcarate served four years of active duty in the Marine Corps. She graduated from Scalia Law School in 1998 and was enlisted in the reserves during this time.
Keeping the Marines’ “Always Faithful” motto close to her, Azcarate was instrumental in creating the first Veterans Treatment Docket in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a “specialty court designed to treat veterans suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues.”
In 2008, Judge Azcarate became the first female chief judge on the General District Court Bench. Seven years later, Judge Azcarate took up her current position in the Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Judge Azcarate has presided over many cases throughout her career, but it seems the Depp-Heard trial may be her highest-profile dispute to date. It’s put her in the media spotlight like judges in other celebrity cases before her, like Judge Lance Ito.
“You’re going to see who the real Johnny Depp is – behind the fame, behind the pirate costumes. Because Johnny Depp brought this case, all of this is going to come out,” Heard lawyer Ben Rottenborn said during opening statements, challenging Depp.
For the past several days, Rottenborn has been cross-examining Depp. “Yes, Mr. Rottenborn,” has been a frequent response from Depp since Monday as Rottenborn goes back-and-forth with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor.
“You’re going to see who the real Johnny Depp is – behind the fame, behind the pirate costumes. Because Johnny Depp brought this case, all of this is going to come out.”
Prior to taking on “Aquaman” actress Heard as a client, Rottenborn’s career has seen him represent venture capital directors, Fortune 50 companies and film and TV studios in cases involving First Amendment and copyright infringement actions, according to his bio.
Rottenborn earned his law degree from Stanford and was a judicial clerk in the District of Arizona. He then headed to Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis LLP before landing at Woods Rogers in Virginia.
He’s also previously held the role of adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Also representing the defense is Elaine Bredehoft, a seasoned attorney who has been trying court cases since 1984.
Bredehoft is the Heard lawyer who argued that cameras should be banned from the courtroom but was denied by Judge Azcarate.
During opening statements, Bredehoft previewed graphic abuse allegations against Depp, describing various allegations of abuse beginning in 2015.
She also described Depp as “delusional” and “paranoid,” claiming he would drink and take drugs before allegedly “assaulting” Heard on various occasions.
“We’re going to ask you… to hold Mr. Depp responsible,” Bredehoft told the jury. “Enough is enough.”
“We’re going to ask you… to hold Mr. Depp responsible. Enough is enough.”
According to her bioBredehoft is a partner at Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Nadelhaft.
She’s an award-winning lawyer with multiple accolades on her resume, including an induction to the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers.
She’s previously gone to court over defamation, breach of contract cases and more.
Representing Depp in the lawsuit is attorney Ben Chew, a partner at Brown Rudnick.
In 2017, Depp filed a suit against his business managers at The Management Group. Chew, who was allegedly in the process of exiting his law firm at the time, and other attorneys were reportedly replaced by a different team ahead of trial. The case ended in a settlement.
During opening statements in his client’s latest case, Chew billed Depp as “one of the most talented actors in Hollywood” and as “a respected artist whose name was associated with success at the box office.”
“Today, his name is associated with a lie, a false statement uttered by his ex-wife,” Chew argued, adding Heard “painted herself as the innocent victim of abuse” in her 2018 op-ed.
“The evidence will show that that was a lie and that remains a lie.”
“The evidence will show that that was a lie and that remains a lie,” Chew said, adding that “Hollywood studios” don’t want to face the backlash of hiring an actor accused of domestic abuse, which can “devastate” a career and a family such as Depp’s.
Asided from his work representing Depp in the lawsuit against Heard, Chew’s bio says he’s “successfully prosecuted two breach of fiduciary cases” for Depp as well as represented another A-list client, Cher, in multiple cases.
According to his bio, Chew is a veteran attorney who is part of the “invitation-only” Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He’s been involved in cases concerning defamation, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, government contracts and class actions, one of which resulted in a $ 1.3 billion settlement.
Camille Vasquez is another attorney representing Depp. Like Chew, Vasquez is an associate at Brown Rudnick. Prior to joining the firm, she was an attorney for a Los Angeles-based company, according to her bio.
She’s versed in the world of “plaintiff-side defamation suits” and has “experience litigating contract disputes, business-related torts, and employment-related claims.”
“Mr. Depp will go to his grave knowing that, whatever he does, there will always be people who believe he abused a woman.”
During opening statements, she argued that Heard “manipulated” Depp and “berated” him. Depp would respond by hiding during fights with Heard, Vasquez said.
“Mr. Depp will go to his grave knowing that whatever he does, there will always be people who believe he abused a woman,” Vasquez said.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and The Associated Press contributed to this report