How TMZ Has A Special Involvement In The Depp Vs. Heard Trial

News outlet TMZ has found its name popping up intermittently in the ongoing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial. During Heard's May 17 cross-examination on the witness stand, Depp's attorney Camille Vasquez grilled the "Aquaman" actor about allegedly alerting TMZ when she went to court to obtain a temporary restraining order against Depp in May 2016 (per Variety). Heard claimed, in response, to be as surprised as anyone that outlets caught wind of her courthouse trip. "I assumed since it's a public building, there was that possibility. But I was shocked," Heard testified then. Additionally, Heard suggested it was Depp's divorce lawyer, Laura Wasser, who allegedly used her TMZ connections to alert the outlet.

Another specific piece of evidence also dragged the entertainment outlet into the trial. A video published on TMZ in December 2016 appeared to show Depp angrily shouting and slamming kitchen cabinets as Heard filmed him with a camera. Vasquez suggested during cross-examination that Heard was the one who leaked the vid. "TMZ owns the copyright now [to the video], doesn't it? Did they pay you for that?," Vasquez asked Heard (per The Wrap). The actor replied, "I never got paid because I had nothing to do with that." 

Now, Team Depp seemingly wants answers directly from the horse's mouth. Based on a last-minute ruling on May 25 by Judge Penney Azcarate, TMZ's role in the trial just got a lot more involved.

Johnny Depp's team seeks the source behind video leak to TMZ

Judge Penney Azcarate denied TMZ's motion to block former employee Morgan Tremaine from testifying in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial on May 25. The day prior, Variety reported that the news outlet had filed an emergency motion to prevent Depp from calling Tremaine, a field assignment manager, to the witness stand.

It was TMZ's belief that Depp's legal team wanted to out the source who provided them with the video of Depp angrily slamming kitchen cabinets in Heard's presence. "TMZ promised this source that it would maintain their confidentiality and would not disclose their name or other information about them," the outlet's motion statement read. Moreover, TMZ insisted, Tremaine merely obtained the video and his testimony would only be based on "rumor and conjecture."

Mid-trial on May 25, however, Law & Crime Network's Angenette Levy tweeted, "Judge Azcarate ruling now: motion to intervene by @TMZ DENIED. Tremaine will be allowed to testify. Attorney for @TMZ will not be allowed to object during questioning of Tremaine." Azcarate based her ruling on the fact that TMZ is not a party to the case, thereby rendering its confidentiality concern "not germane to the trial," per Variety. However,  TMZ is allowed to take legal issue with Tremaine — separately — should he break any non-disclosure agreement during his testimony.