Now approaching its fifth week in Virginia's Fairfax County Court, the ongoing defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is nearing its end. Originally scheduled to conclude on May 19, the trial is now expected to end on May 27, following the inclusion and examination of a significant amount of new evidence. Depp, who initially filed claims against Heard in March of 2019, is currently suing his ex-wife for $50 million over an op-ed article she wrote for the Washington Post a year prior.
Not only is this a high-profile celebrity trial, the counsel involved in the trial is also highly regarded. In this article, Best Lawyers takes a closer look at the lead attorneys selected for the case.
Representing Depp in trial is Camille Vasquez, an attorney working at Brown Rudnick LLP, an international law firm based in Irvine, California. Vasquez, who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and her J.D. from Southwestern Law School in 2010, has been recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America since 2021 for Commercial Litigation. During her time as a litigator, she has focused her attention primarily on commercial litigation cases, while also devoting time to plaintiff-side defamation suits, litigating contract disputes, business-related torts and employment-related claims.
According to her firm, Vazquez’s experience in regard to defamation suits such as this is in “parallel reputation management and crisis communications issues arising from these engagements.” During her time as lead council in this case, Vasquez has garnered the attention of those following the trial via social media, with the public highlighting her tough line of questioning during cross-examinations.
Recognized The Best Lawyers in America® for Commercial Litigation since 2017, Benjamin Chew accounts for another portion of Depp’s sizeable legal team. Based out of Washington D.C., Chew is currently a partner at Brown Rudnick LLP and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of the country’s most prestigious, invitation-only societies for trial lawyers with significant courtroom experience. A Princeton graduate, Chew eventually went on to graduate with his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1988. In addition to having over 25 years of trial experience, Chew is also bar certified in the District of Columbia, Virginia and the Republic of Kosovo.
Described by his peers as a multifaceted litigator, Chew represents clients in a variety of legal issues such as defamation suits, shareholder derivative suits, products liability claims, insurance law, fraud and RICO-based litigation. Outside the courtroom, Chew dedicates time to counseling and advising businesses, trade associations and foreign governments facing intellectual property roadblocks.
Newly recognized by The Best Lawyers in America for 2022 in Commercial Litigation, Rebecca MacDowell Lecaroz is a business litigator and trial attorney with a wide array of legal experience handling claims including intellectual property rights, defamation, trade secrets misappropriation, commercial contracts, real estate and employment. A onetime Dillard Fellow at the University of Virginia School of Law, Lecaroz is currently a partner at Brown Rudnick LLP and has prior experience as a clerk under Judge Robert P. Frank of the Virginia Court of Appeals. During her legal clerkship, Lecaroz attained legal experience by assisting in criminal, domestic and worker’s compensation cases.
Depp’s team also consists of Stephanie Calnan, Andrew Crawford, Yarelyn Mena, Jessica Meyers and Samuel Moniz.
Representing Heard in trial is Elaine Bredehoft, an attorney and litigator who has been successfully practicing law in both state and federal courts in Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland since 1984. A Minnesota native, Bredehoft is a co-founder and partner of the Virginia-based law firm Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Nadelhaft P.C., primarily focusing her time on employment law cases. Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America every year since 1997 for Employment Law - Individuals, Bredehoft is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an honor reserved for only the top 1% of attorneys in each state.
In addition to Ms. Bredehoft, Heard’s team also consists of Adam Nadelhaft and Ben Rottenborn.
With legal powerhouses who have decades of experience representing both Depp and Heard, the arguments and cases being made for each are strong and riveting. And while it’s true that we likely wouldn’t be so focused on this trial if the accused were not celebrities, these capable lawyers are accessible and ready to represent all clients. Their talent, aptitude and experience have landed them on our lists, which honor only the top 5% of practicing attorneys nationwide, and we are proud to honor their careers and professionalism.