August 17, 2022

Amber Heard calling Johnny Depp back to the stand could be a “risk” — partly because of how likable he was when he testified in the former couple’s bombshell defamation trial, legal experts told The Post.

Sources close to Heard told The Post last week that the “Aquaman” actress’s legal team may plan to have Depp testify again as they argue her side in the ongoing courtroom battle in Fairfax, Virginia.

But the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, who has already testified for four days, came across as believable and likable to the jury, experts said — noting that giving him a second round on the stand might hurt Heard’s case.

“There is a risk that he is going to have more time being likable on the stand,” said civil attorney Katherine Lizardo, “when it’s actually Amber Heard’s time to present her case.”

Seattle defamation lawyer Bruce Johnson agreed Depp’s apparent likability could be a problem for Heard.

“That is a huge risk – if he’s a good witness and he’s going to perform well again,” Johnson told The Post.

Halim Dhanidina – a former California judge and current criminal defense attorney – said Depp’s “very unique personality” likely made him appealing to the jury the first time around.

“He didn’t really strike me as someone who was putting on an act or fabricating,” Dhanidina said. “The jury is going to want to know whether they can rely on testimony not based on how smart the witness appears, but how sincere they are.”

Depp, 58, is suing his 36-year-old ex-wife, accusing her of defaming him when she called herself “a public figure representing domestic abuse” in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.

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Amber Heard previously accused Johnny Depp’s legal team of editing photo evidence of the actor’s alleged bruise marks in his eyes.
JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Heard has filed a $100 million countersuit claiming it was Depp who defamed her by accusing her of lying about the alleged abuse.

Her side is now presenting its case, wrapping up with Heard’s fourth day on the stand on Tuesday, and continuing to call witnesses until closing arguments, expected May 27.

“Right now we are hearing Amber Heard’s … side of the story,” said Lizardo, an attorney who represents plaintiffs in civil suits.


Follow The Post’s live coverage of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial


“To call her opponent to speak on your behalf sounds counterintuitive.”

Dhanidina noted that Depp could try to gain the “advantage” if he gets a chance to address the jury again.

Actor Amber Heard testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S., May 17, 2022.
Amber Heard’s legal will reportedly ask for Johnny Depp to testify again along with actress Ellen Barkin.
Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS

“If he has been landing with the jury and if the jury is liking him then more time in front of the jury is a good thing for him,” the former judge said. “It may be something that [Heard] does out of necessity but that [Depp] himself can benefit from.”

Jurors, however, wouldn’t be given an explanation as to why Depp is back on the stand, which could “confuse” them, Lizardo noted.

“Most of the time when you are doing cross examination it sounds hostile,” she explained. “A jury might think ‘Okay, he’s back on the stand. Are they badgering him again?’”

Johnson, the defamation lawyer, also said that Heard’s team needs to weigh whether calling Depp again will stretch the jury’s attention — as some jurors have reportedly been spotted dozing off while the trial stretches into its fifth week.

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Actor Johnny Depp gestures as he departs the courtroom for a break during the Depp vs Heard defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 17 May 2022.
Seattle defamation lawyer Bruce Johnson anticipates Johnny Depp will “perform well again” on the stand no matter what Amber Heard’s attorneys question him about.
EPA/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL

“You are putting on a performance for a jury and you don’t want to drag it on for too long,” Johnson said. “In any long trial that is a consideration.”

Some of the experts, however, noted that Heard’s attorneys may try to get the upper hand over Depp while grilling him again.

“I would suspect that they would want to cut [Depp] down to size,” Virginia defamation attorney Jeremiah Denton told The Post.

Johnny Depp demonstrates how he protected himself during an alleged attack from Amber Heard during a testimony on April 20, 2022.
Johnny Depp demonstrates how he protected himself during an alleged attack from Amber Heard during a testimony on April 20, 2022.
EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“He did reasonably well in his first appearance on the stand, so I guess they feel they have to necessarily attack his credibility – it might be his memory, his truthfulness [or] covering something that hasn’t been covered,” Denton said.

Dhanidina said Heard’s lawyers might be able to catch Depp off guard with their questions as they will likely “have new topics and new areas to cover,” including topics they weren’t allowed to quiz him about first time around.

But the more time Depp has on the stand, the more opportunity he has to slip up and contradict something he said previously, the experts all agreed.

Actor Johnny Depp testifies that a can of mineral spirits actress Amber Heard through, hit him there, in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, April 25, 2022.
Attorney Katherine Lizardo predicts the jury will favor Johnny Depp as he continues to testify.
STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“The more a witness talks the more likely it is they will be saying things that could be easily contradicted,” Johnson said. “Even if they’re trying to be honest, we all have memory lapses.”

Dhanidina said while he can’t predict which side would benefit more from a second Depp stint on the stand: “Buckle up because it’s about to get really really interesting.”

“Any time you have a party being questioned by the other side it can be very very hard to predict who is going to win and whether it resembles a chess match or a knock-down-drag-out fight,” Dhanidina said. “And we don’t really know what we are going to get.”

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Depp and Heard’s reps both declined to comment.