Judge rules against TMZ, allows Johnny Depp to call ex-employee to testify

Judge rules against TMZ, allows Johnny Depp to call ex-employee to testify

Published May 26, 2022
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A Virginia judge ruled against TMZ on Wednesday, allowing its former employee to testify in Johnny Depp’s bombshell defamation case against Amber Heard.

Judge Penney Azcarate — during a lunch break in the Fairfax trial — struck down the gossip site’s emergency motion seeking to prevent former field assignment manager Morgan Tremaine from being called as a rebuttal witness by Depp.

TMZ had argued that Tremaine shouldn’t be forced to give up information about a source who provided him with a video showing Depp yelling at Heard and slamming cabinet doors, which ran on the site in 2016, court papers showed.

“We are seeking to intervene to protect the relationship and their sources,” TMZ lawyer Charles Tobin told the judge.

Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft also opposed Tremaine’s testimony, claiming he should have been identified as a witness earlier in the case.

But Depp’s lawyer Ben Chew noted that Tremaine wasn’t subpoenaed but rather would be testifying of his own free will.

“In this case, it appears that the witness is willing to state the name of the confidential source without being compelled,” Azcarate said.

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

“Whether that breached a nondisclosure agreement with Mr. Tremaine and [TMZ’s parent company] EHM is not germane to this matter and can be litigated in a separate matter if EHM so chooses.”

During his testimony later Wednesday, Tremaine told the jury about receiving the video of Depp and Heard’s alleged fight on Aug. 12, 2016, through TMZ’s email tip line.

He also described getting paparazzi to take photos of an “alleged bruise” on Heard’s face after the actress filed a temporary restraining order against Depp in May 2016.

“Their objective was to capture her leaving the courthouse and she was going to sort of stop and turn toward the camera to display the bruise on the right side of her face, the alleged bruise,” testified Tremaine about the incident in Los Angeles.

The trial — which is in its sixth week — is expected to conclude testimony by Thursday. Jury deliberations could begin as early as Friday — after closing arguments.

The 58-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” star sued Heard, his ex-wife, for $50 million, alleging that she defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she wrote, “I became a public figure representing domestic abuse.”

The 36-year-old “Aquaman” actress then countersued for $100 million, claiming that Depp defamed her when he said she lied about the abuse allegations.

Reps for Depp and Heard declined to comment.