TMZ has filed an emergency motion to bar actor Johnny Depp from calling one of the outlet’s former employees as a witness in his ongoing defamation trial against actress and ex-wife Amber Heard.
According to a report published Tuesday afternoon by Variety, Depp’s legal team indicated a plan to call Morgan Tremaine, who was previously employed as a TMZ field assignment manager, to testify as early as Wednesday.
“In the motion, TMZ said it was seeking to protect a confidential source who had provided the outlet with a video of Depp yelling at ex-wife Amber Heard and slamming cabinets. The video was played for the jury early on in the trial,” Variety reported.
On cross examination, Depp’s attorneys questioned Heard about the video, asking whether or not she had been the one to leak it to the press. “I did not do that,” Heard responded. “I had nothing to do with that.”
Sources “connected” with Depp had also reportedly told TMZ when the video first leaked — in mid-August of 2016 — that the video had been “heavily edited” and noted that there were parts of the video where Heard appeared to be “smiling and egging him on.” Those same sources reportedly suggested Heard had intentionally set up the video in order to make Depp look as though he was out of control.
TMZ’s lawyers asserted that under Virginia law, the court had to protect the identity of the source — additionally, they claimed that Tremaine had no connection with the video in question and anything he could possibly say on the stand would amount to “hearsay and conjecture.”
“TMZ promised this source that it would maintain their confidentiality and would not disclose their name or other information about them,” TMZ’s attorneys concluded. “TMZ makes such promises of confidentiality, from time to time, so that it may publish information in the public interest, and it relies on the journalist’s privilege protecting the identity of confidential sources to do so.”
In addition to suggesting Heard might have leaked the video, Depp’s attorney’s questioned the “Aquaman” star as to whether she had been the one to tip off photographers when she went to court in 2016 to obtain a restraining order. Heard denied that as well, and argued that Depp’s attorney, Laura Wasser, could have been the one to leak the news.
It was reported on Wednesday that Tremaine could testify according to Judge Penney Azcarate.