Joelle Rich represented Johnny Depp in his 2020 U.K. libel case and is now dating the actor
On Thursday, PEOPLE confirmed that the actor, 59, is dating Rich, who was an attorney representing him in his U.K. libel trial against The Sun two years ago. “They are dating but it’s not serious,” the source said, adding that Rich is married but estranged from her husband.
Though Rich was not on Depp’s legal team for the Virginia defamation trial against 36-year-old Heard, the London-based attorney did attend several proceedings to show support for Depp inside the courtroom.
She was photographed smiling while walking ahead of the actor on May 2, and she was pictured looking at something on his phone during a break outside the courtroom the following day. Rich also hugged Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez inside the courtroom on May 16 and later was seen exiting the courthouse with Depp and his team on May 19.
Johnny Depp’s girlfriend Joelle Rich was in the courtroom during his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard earlier this year.
The verdict was revealed June 1, with the jury siding mostly in Depp’s favor, finding that Heard defamed him in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about domestic violence, though she didn’t mention him by name. Depp was awarded more than $10 million in damages, and Heard, meanwhile, won one of her three defamation countersuit claims and was awarded $2 million. (They are both appealing the verdicts.)
According to her bio, Rich “helps individuals and families in the public eye protect their privacy and reputations” and has “expertise in libel, privacy and copyright disputes.” She “works to defend [clients’] reputations against false and defamatory allegations in print, online and on social media.”
Rich was on Depp’s legal team during his libel case against The Sun, which he lost in November 2020. He sued the newspaper for calling him a “wife-beater,” but the court upheld the outlet’s claims as being “substantially true” and Heard testified to back up the claims. In March 2021, his attempt to overturn the decision was overruled.
She told The Law Society Gazette last year that her “definite career high” was in 2020 when she was “working simultaneously” on Meghan Markle’s case against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday, “hailed as the biggest privacy case in decades, and the Johnny Depp trial, which was a now rare libel trial.”
In statements after the Virginia trial’s verdict, Depp thanked the jury for giving him a fresh start, while Heard called the decision a setback for women.
“I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband,” said Heard at the time. “I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.”
She added, “I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the U.K. I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”
Depp said the “best is yet to come” for him after the verdict, and added that the jury “gave me my life back.” He also thanked his “diligent and unwavering legal team who did an extraordinary job in helping me to share the truth.”