The legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard just went to a whole new level after the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" star claims his ex tried to 'blackmail' him with a photo of the actor allegedly smoking illegal drugs from a glass pipe.
The legal teams for both A-list stars faced off in a Virginia courtroom this week week, but it was what happened between the attorneys before the hearing that is now causing a huge issue between the parties.
According to our sources, before the hearing started, Amber Heard's new attorney, Roberta Kaplan, and her associates approached Depp's attorney's to discuss the case.
Depp's legal team claim they were shown several highly sensitive photographs, one in which Johnny Depp appears to be smoking drugs from a glass pipe, and several other photos showing alleged illegal drugs and paraphernalia located inside Depp's home.
Our sources, who have seen the photos, say the glass pipe photo appears to show Johnny holding the paraphernalia and lighting it.
The two other photos allegedly show what appear to be drugs on a surface in the actor's home.
We're told the photos were taken several years ago, while the couple was still together.
They also feature signature personal items, which seemingly prove they were taken inside the actor's home.
We're told Kaplan threatened Depp's attorney, that if they did not drop their opposition to a protective order to keep details of the defamation case private, she would show them to the judge in the case.
Johnny's team declined, and the photos were presented in court.
According to the official transcript from the hearing, at one point during the proceedings, Heard's attorney asked to approach the bench and present items that are sensitive in nature.
"These are highly confidential, Your Honor, so I just don’t want anyone else to see them. So, Your Honor, what I’ve just shown you are photos that are really just the tip of the iceberg that we would produce in this case. There are many, many more like them," she said to the judge.
Kaplan made it clear to the judge that the photos are just proof ALL sensitive material from the case should be sealed.
She also admitted the drug photos are "good" for their side in the case.
"I wanted to show them to, Your Honor, because it should give Your Honor a very good sense of the kind of information we’re dealing with here. We obviously think these photos are good for us, help us prove our case, but we don’t think that they should be out on the Internet today, or they should be out in press articles", she explained.
The judge viewed the glass pipe photo, and the other drug photos too.
We're told Depp's team was outraged by the tactic and addressed the issue in court:
"Your Honor, the photographs that were, shown as an inducement to try to get us to drop our motion, don’t relate to Ms. Heard. They relate to Mr. Depp. Mr. Depp has nothing to hide. He has testified about his substance abuse. He owns that."
Depp's lawyer continued, "And it’s absolutely – I thinks it’s outrageous, Your Honor they tried to do that. They didn’t come here with materials relating to Ms. Heard."
Depp's legal team argued that showing pictures of the star's drug use doesn't help Heard's argument to keep everything in the case private.
As we reported, Depp wants the entire case to remain public. Depp's lawyer argued the photos only show "possible embarrassment to Mr. Depp ... they don’t speak for Mr. Depp. We speak for Mr. Depp."
In reaction to the incident, attorney Adam Waldman tells The Blast:
"Amber Heard’s #Timesup lawyer Roberta Kaplan prefaced a court proceeding in which she unsuccessfully sought to hide abuse hoax and violence evidence with a blackmail attempt. Brandishing undated photos in the courthouse, one of which appeared to show Mr. Depp (who has spoken openly in interviews of his past painful struggles and recovery from drug addiction) smoking a pipe years ago. Ms. Kaplan’s threat was simple: drop your opposition to keeping the evidence secret or we will show the judge these pictures. When Kaplan’s threat was rebuffed, she followed through on it, as the transcript shows."
We're told Kaplan reiterated to the judge, the photos show the need for BOTH A-listers to be protected, and the move was far from "blackmail."
In a statement to The Blast, Kaplan says:
"Mr. Depp’s legal team has grossly mischaracterized our discussions. Before the hearing, we showed them certain photographs to express our astonishment that Mr. Depp was opposing entry of a standard protective order that would preserve BOTH parties’ privacy as we engage in discovery prior to trial. We did not threaten to 'release' any photographs, including photographs showing Mr. Depp using illegal drugs. Instead, we presented certain photographs to the Judge during the hearing in order to explain that a protective order would make sense in this case. Indeed, we were very careful with the contents of the photographs in court— we did not display them to anyone other than the Judge or even describe them on the record. And we have not “released” them to anyone."
She continued, "Unfortunately, when lawyers like Mr Depp’s make false and inflammatory accusations and distort information about what happened in court or evidence in the case, all that they accomplish is to threaten the integrity of the judicial process."
As The Blast previously reported, after hearing from both sides, the judge did order all medical records and banking information sealed. He also ordered Heard's personal diary off limits.
The case in ongoing, and is headed to trial in the next few months.