TMZ filed an emergency request in Virginia on Tuesday, requesting that one of its former employees not be called to testify in Johnny Depp’s defamation case.
TMZ filed the move to protect a confidential source who provided the site with a video of Depp raging at ex-wife Amber Heard and slamming cabinets. Early in the trial, the jury was given the video.
On Wednesday, Depp’s camp plans to bring Morgan Tremaine, a former TMZ field assignment manager, as a witness. They haven’t indicated what will be asked of Tremaine.
The source’s identity, according to TMZ’s lawyers, should be protected under Virginia law’s journalist’s privilege.
According to the magazine, Tremaine’s testimony is unimportant in determining whether Depp and Heard defamed one other.
Camille Vasquez, Depp’s lawyer, claimed that she had leaked the film and that the outlet had paid her for it during her cross-examination of Heard.
Heard testified, “I didn’t do it.” “I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Vasquez feared that Heard’s team had tipped off TMZ when Heard went to court in May 2016 to secure a restraining order against Depp.
Heard was taken aback by the presence of photographers and thought that Depp’s divorce lawyer, Laura Wasser, was involved.
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Carry on with the topic
Tremaine had nothing to do with TMZ receiving the footage, according to the request, and any testimony he would give concerning the confidential source would be based on “rumor and guesswork.”
“TMZ assured this source that it would keep their identity a secret and would not reveal their name or any other information about them,” the outlet’s lawyers wrote.
“TMZ gives such promises of secrecy from time to time to publish information in the public interest. And it does so by relying on the journalist’s privilege to protect the identity of confidential sources.”
On Friday, the six-week trial will come to a close with closing comments.
Judge Penney Azcarate denied TMZ’s application on Wednesday, May 25, citing Tremaine’s voluntary testimony.
She also stated that TMZ’s concern about the source’s secrecy is “not pertinent to the trial”. Also, that TMZ can pursue Tremaine in a separate court for any breach of a non-disclosure agreement.
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TMZ’s Ex-employee Testimony
On Wednesday afternoon, Tremaine was called to the stand, but he declined to comment on TMZ’s sources.
He described receiving an email with a link to the video from the outlet’s tipline.
Similarly, He stated it took him approximately 15 minutes to grab it. Add TMZ’s logo and the distinctive “bumper” sound, and publish it. He claimed he had no idea who had sent the footage.
After witnessing the trial, Tremaine revealed that he phoned Depp’s legal team six days ago.
He said that the version of the film seen to the jury was longer than the version received. And released by TMZ in 2016 because it had more content at the beginning and end.
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On the day Heard came to the Los Angeles County courthouse in May 2016 to get a domestic violence restraining order against Depp. Tremaine stated he had also ordered paparazzi photographers to the courthouse.
As she walked out of the courthouse, photographers snapped images of Heard’s bruised face.
Tremaine stated that TMZ had received a tip that Heard would be present. But that he had no idea who had given the tip.
He simply mentioned he got the information from a news producer who checked it out to make sure it was true.