Judy Bellinger was filmed embracing Mr Depp on Friday 27 May in footage shared across social media. Heard fans claim that this shows that Ms Heard didn’t get a fair trial, suggesting that the behaviour showed that the stenographer wasn’t impartial during the proceedings. The verdict was handed down five days after Ms Bellinger was seen interacting with the Depp team. Ms Bellinger has denied that she was “partying” with Mr Depp.
Mr Depp won the trial against Ms Heard, which was prompted by a 2018 Washington Post op-ed bearing her name. Ms Bellinger works for the private firm Planet Depos, which was hired by Mr Depp’s and Ms Heard’s legal teams to record everything that was said during the proceedings.
Ms Bellinger told Law & Crime that Mr Depp told his team that “he would really like to meet the court reporter”. She said that since she was locked out of the courtroom, she was going to collect her transcribing equipment from Depp lawyer Ben Chew at the actor’s hotel in northern Virginia.
She said Mr Depp’s request to meet was “shocking”. “I’m like, ‘I’m just the court reporter’”, she said. She met the Depp team in the hotel’s hospitality room.
“Johnny was in there, and so I had to go in there and get my equipment, and I saw him, and they’re like ‘he really wants to meet you’,” Ms Bellinger said. “I was probably in there for less than 10 minutes, and he just hugged me and thanked me again. And I hugged a couple of other people there, and I got my equipment and I came out, left, and went home.”
When asked about the online claims that she was partying with Mr Depp, Ms Bellinger said “that did not happen. I had like a 50-minute drive home from here so, no, that did not happen”.
Social media users shared clips of Ms Bellinger and Mr Depp laughing in court during the trial. Law & Crime host Angenette Levy blasted those going after Ms Bellinger.
“People are posting that court stenographer Judy from the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial was ‘partying’ with JD. It’s not true. First, Judy is not a court employee. She was hired by the Depp and Heard teams. Second, she was not partying with him,” she tweeted on 2 June. “Judy was at that event for maybe 10 minutes. The courthouse closes at 4 and her gear was locked inside. Depp’s lawyers collected it for her. She picked up her items and JD hugged her and she left. That’s it.”
“Judy is being targeted online. Leave her alone. She did nothing wrong,” Ms Levy added.
The video was posted on the Instagram page of writer Jessica Reed Kraus. After initially posting the video on her Instagram story, she later posted the video in her regular feed.
Concerning “the now infamous video of Judy hugging Johnny on her way out”, Ms Kraus wrote that “the fact that this has even become a point of contention (post verdict) tells us exactly how desperate those backing the Heard camp are to undermine this ruling any way possible. Even if it means attacking an innocent party, [whose] role in the courtroom is utterly and entirely unbiased”.
“The scene I captured was brief, sweet and genuine – a simple act of gratitude after a stressful trial had wrapped. In this saga that captivated the entire world, ‘Judy the smiling stenographer’ lent a shining light every day to our tv screens. The high five was also simply an adoring thank you,” Ms Kraus added.
“Like she said, had the Heard team reached out with the same affection, she would have responded to them the exact same way. So stop with the forced conspiracies. This woman is no one’s pawn, and I can vouch for [an] online army who are happy to jump to her defense should she need it,” she wrote. “But the story starts and ends in this one frame.”