Actor Johnny Depp smokes during a break in his trial at the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 25, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia.
A Virginia judge rejected TMZ’s emergency motion to intervene in Johnny Depp’s defamation case against Amber Heard on Wednesday, noting that its former employee appears to have chosen to testify on the Pirates of the Caribbean star’s behalf voluntarily.
“A party is not entitled to intervene merely because a byproduct of the litigation adversely impacts them,” Judge Penney Azcarate found.
Morgan Tremaine, formerly a field assignment manager for the celebrity tabloid, appeared on a list of anticipated witnesses before Depp’s rebuttal case began on Tuesday.
“In this case, it appears that the witness is willing to state the name of the confidential source without being compelled voluntarily,” Azcarate said. “Whether that breached a nondisclosure agreement with Mr. Tremaine and [TMZ’s parent company] EHM is not germane to this matter and can be litigated in a separate matter if EHM so chooses.”
Depp called him to testify about how TMZ came to acquire a confidential video of Depp yelling at Heard.
Late on Tuesday, TMZ moved to intervene and assert journalistic privilege.
“Journalists’ promises of confidentiality are vital to reporting the news,” TMZ’s attorneys wrote in a 7-page motion. “That is why the law strongly protects the ability of journalists to keep their promises. The Court should permit TMZ to keep the promise it made here.”
The motion claims that Tremaine has no firsthand knowledge about the source of the footage.
During oral arguments, Depp’s lawyer took a shot at the celebrity tabloid, cracking that TMZ “isn’t exactly Edward R. Murrow, your honor,” referring to the legendary broadcast journalist and war correspondent.
TMZ’s lawyer Charles…