For Camille Vasquez’s first ever podcast, John Quinn interviews her about her high-profile work representing actor Johnny Depp in his defamation case against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, which has dominated headlines during this past year. A key member of Depp’s litigation team, Camille was recently elevated to partner at Brown Rudnick, where she works in the firm’s Litigation & Arbitration Practice Group.
John and Camille begin by discussing her background and early life growing up in Orange County, California, as well as the steps she took to get to her current position. Camille talks about earning her degree in Political Science & Communications, while focusing on her future legal career. Camille and John explore how she became the first lawyer in her family, tracing the steps she has taken throughout her career, from insurance defense law to trial work—something she loves most.
The conversation then turns to how Camille came to represent actor Johnny Depp in his defamation case against his ex-wife, Amber Heard. They begin with Camille’s first impressions—she notes how shy, soft-spoken, and thoughtful Johnny was as a client, which surprised her. Then, they walk through the professional relationship Camille and Johnny have built, discussing litigation against his former entertainment lawyer, two former bodyguards, and several other matters.
John and Camille then move on to discuss the Depp v. Heard dispute itself, providing background details on the claims made against Johnny. They explore the defamation case Johnny brought in the United Kingdom against a tabloid publication there which published an article calling Johnny “a wife-beater.” The two delve into the differences between evidentiary rules in the UK and the United States, and how those differences dramatically altered what evidence was admitted in the UK trial, to Johnny’s ultimate disadvantage in that case.
The discussion then turns to the impact of the allegations against Johnny and the UK decision had on his life and career, including his legacy and the impact on his children. From there, the discussion moves to the counterclaims Amber brought against Johnny based on statements released by Johnny’s previous counsel and a discussion of the recent highly publicized trial.
The discussion of the trial begins with Camille describing the biggest challenge she saw going into the trial: convincing the jury that Amber’s testimony was not credible. Camille compares Amber’s performance over her three days of deposition with her less convincing performance at trial. She explains how she tied every question at the trial to previous statements Amber had made, especially audio recordings the couple had made of their arguments, at the advice of a therapist. Camille spells out how she used those recordings to let the jury hear how the couple were in private. Elsewhere in the interview, Camille goes into more detail about Amber’s cross-examination, including how her habit of turning to the jury when she responded to Camille’s questions made her testimony seem unnatural and manufactured.
Camille also explains the legal team’s differing views on who their ideal juror would be and compares those views with the jury they ultimately got. John and Camille delve into Camille’s tactical decision to lead off her case with Johnny’s sister as well as several of his long-time employees to allow the jury to hear what kind of person Johnny was like in private, before Johnny himself took the stand. The two then analyze why the cross-examination of these witnesses failed to undermine their credibility with the jury.
Camille goes on to describe Johnny’s performance on the stand where he was able to describe in his own words, and his own pace, his relationship with Amber, and why he was bringing the lawsuit. John and Camille then discuss Johnny’s performance during cross-examination, and how Camille supported him, ensuring that his authenticity and true character would come through. Camille tells how Johnny took her advice to take his time, carefully listening to each and responding accordingly. Interestingly, his relatively unknown stutter actually helped him slow down and relax.
Finally, John and Camille wrap up the episode by discussing some of the aspects of the trial that were fun for Camille and her plans to help future clients defend themselves against untrue allegations or assist them out of complex problems.
Published: Aug 10 2022