Actor Johnny Depp owes the American Civil Liberties Union $38,000 for attorneys’ fees in complying with a subpoena for evidence that he used in his defamation battle against ex-wife Amber Hearda judge ruled on Friday.
The award amounted to less than half of the fees that the ACLU requested.
“Attorneys, like taxes, are a fact of life,” said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoronwho disclosed at the top of the hearing that he is a member of the ACLU.
Engoron emphasized that nothing about his being a member would pose a conflict in the fee dispute.
The ACLU’s lawyer Stephanie Teplinfrom the firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, argued that $86,253.26 was reasonable reimbursement for production costs and expenses. Engoron compared her prestigious firm to a “Cadillac,” when all he said was needed for a simple discovery dispute was a “Ford.”
Teplin noted that Depp sought thousands of documents spanning a six-year time period, and New York law provides for the reimbursement of reasonable production expenses to a non-party in litigation.
She added that the ACLU made an attempt to limit its cost by limiting the scope of the subpoena, but Depp defends upon the broader requests.
That argument did not seem to move Justice Engoron and his law clerk Allison Greenfieldwho noted that Engoron upheld the original scope of the subpoenas.
Noting that he did not follow Depp and Heard’s blockbuster trial closely, Engoron coyly asked how the ACLU got embroidered in the Hollywood legal battle. Teplin did not answer that one directly, but her adversary did.
Depp’s lawyer Jessica N. Meyersfrom Brown Rudnick, called the original request for fees “exorbitant and unreasonable” in a legal brief. Meyers opined that the judge’s final ruling was “fair,” after he pronounced it.