Frederick M. Brown-Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
by Natalie Finn | Fri., Aug. 12, 2016 2:05 PM
Frederick M. Brown-Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
It was twisted while it lasted.
But all signs are pointing to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's divorce drama coming to a close very soon—and not just because the June hearing on Heard's domestic violence restraining order that was rescheduled for Aug. 17 is right around the corner.
Rather, after multiple delays that have originated from both ends, Heard has yet to be deposed and the bombshell testimony that was expected back in June, after she alleged that Depp had been abusive throughout the course of their relationship, may never happen.
Depp's legal team has been trying to get a confidentiality agreement in place for months, his most recent attempt coming about four weeks ago before the actor was willing to turn over the details of his financials—which he didn't object to Heard's team having. Rather, he wanted them kept private once they'd been shared with his future ex-wife.
The July filing also indicated that they had tried to reach a settlement in mid-June, but nothing came of the negotiations at the time.
So with Heard's last two deposition appointments resulting in no deposition—last weekend we were told she was at the lawyer's office for 10 hours after flying in from London, but she was not deposed; and then she says she wasn't able to get a flight out in order to be back in L.A. for today's depo meeting—it seems that the behind-the-scenes toiling continues.
Meanwhile, the repeated delays are not all that unusual, according to marital and family law attorney Mitch Karpf of the Miami-based firm Young Berman Karpf & Gonzalez.
"I don't think it's unique at all," Mitch, who along with son Brian Karpf specializes in high-profile and high net worth cases, tells E! News. "What happens many times is, the lawyers may go back and forth and have talks, but the lawyers are only agents of their clients." When a deposition is scheduled, "it's one of the first times that everybody is together in the same room. Once we're all together we're in a position where perhaps we can talk about some of the issues and maybe settle the case. Often times when you reschedule the deposition, you're making progress behind the scenes."
Hence Heard and her attorney being at Depp's lawyer's office last Saturday all day without a formal deposition taking place.
What is likely happening here, Brian Karpf says, is that "depositions have been postponed and while Amber wants to keep [their talks] off the books to continue the discussion, Depp's team keeps resetting the deposition to keep the pressure on, to make sure the settlement talks continue." (Neither Brian nor Mitch is involved in the Depp-Heard case.)
"A deposition is set with the hope that it gets the other person to the table to discuss a settlement," Brian adds. "It's not uncommon before the deposition starts to turn it into a settlement conference."
According to court documents filed today, Heard's deposition was successfully rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m. at the office of Depp's attorney, Laura Wasser—and the second order of business, as noted in the filing, would be to "agree upon a date, time and location" for Depp's deposition.
Heard has been in London filming Justice League and, per the filing, the flight from London to Los Angeles that was "available to her" wouldn't have arrived until midday Friday. "To no fault of her own, Amber was unable to arrange for a flight" that would have gotten her here by 10 a.m. today, the paperwork stated.
Meanwhile, the personal reasons for both actors to want to avoid next week's hearing—as well as any further public back-and-forth—are plentiful on either side.
It would save Heard the continued scrutiny that will inevitably come whether she testifies or not, plus the emotional exhaustion that could come with testifying. It saves Depp from the fallout of whatever damning things Heard would presumably say if she did end up testifying. It saves Heard from whatever Depp's team would have to lob back at her if they were to fight it out in court. It would shorten a process that will only get longer once a judge gets more involved for any other reason than to sign off on the terms of a settlement. It could save both sides on attorney fees (even if Depp ends up paying her legal bills, lawyers get a lot more if you fight for months, let alone years). Heard could end up with more money than if she had taken her chances in court. Or Depp could end up saving money if the terms are hammered out a certain way.
A source had told E! News that Heard had been fully prepared to give her deposition last Saturday, and Mitch Karpf agrees that was the likely scenario.
"Good lawyers prepare their clients. I'm sure she's been well-prepared," he tells us. Usually the client arrives ready to "get it over with. Then they sit there all day wondering what the heck is going on."
"Ninety-eight percent of the cases, at least here [in Florida], never go to court and ultimately settle," Mitch adds. With a hearing looming ahead, "that's when a lot of lawyers want to get it done. Because once you start the hearing and the damage is done, then you might as well go forward with it." And in the case of Depp and Heard, "chances are the hearing doesn't go forward."
At least not as dramatically as may have been expected, with Heard taking the stand.
"If her motives are pure and clean, the last thing she really wants is to castigate him in the public arena," Mitch says. "She's made her point, she settles it and moves on. Like any other crime victim, they have to choose between resurfacing all of this" and settling. And her attorney's top priority, he notes, ought to be Heard's safety.
Both Mitch and Brian Karpf predict that, whatever happens during the latest deposition meeting tomorrow, word that the two have confidential settlement is imminent.
And then, per the likely terms of such an agreement, neither Amber nor Johnny can talk about what went on during their marriage once the deal is done.
"If this happens," Brian says, "there's going to be no indication whether one party was right or one party was wrong. It's just going to be very benign."
So even for a case involving such huge stars that started off with such shocking, disturbing and disappointing allegations and made such loud headlines, the only possible outcome may be one that's about as ordinary and as quiet as it gets.
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