Johnny Depp snagged a key victory in his court battle against ex-wife Amber Heard, when a New York judge ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) should release documents pertaining to her donations.

The "Aquaman" actress pledged in court in 2016 that she will donate the entirety of her $7million divorce settlement to charity: divided equally between the ACLU and the Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The hospital has since confirmed, via a letter to the actor's business adviser in 2019, that she has stopped the payments.

The ACLU, on the other hand, had refused to divulge any details, which prompted Depp and his legal team to take matters to the court. They filed a petition asking the organisation to release documents pertaining to Heard's donations, which a judge partially granted.

"Mr. Depp is most gratified by the Court's decision," Depp's attorney Benjamin Chew told USA Today about the decision.

This means the documents will show whether the actress indeed followed through on her promise or not, which has become a point of argument in the couple's legal battles. This will also be key evidence when the "Rum Diary" star takes her to court for libel in Virginia next year. His lawyer, Andrew Caldecott, has since argued that her promised donation was "a calculated and manipulative lie" that "tipped the scales against Mr. Depp from the very beginning."

If proven that Heard lied about the payments, then it would shed new light on her credibility as a victim of domestic abuse. She had accused the actor of such during their marriage, and testified against him last year when he sued British tabloid The Sun for defamation over its "wife-beater" article.

Depp had labeled his ex-wife a "gold digger," which she contested and told the court that she has "remained financially independent from him the whole time" they were together. Heard also said, as quoted by The Independent, "the entire amount of my divorce settlement was donated to charity."

Judge Andrew Nichol ruled in her favour as he said the "donation of the $7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold-digger." The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star lost the case and was ultimately dropped by Warner Bros. from "Fantastic Beasts." Meanwhile, Heard gets to reprise her role as Mera in "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom."

Johnny Depp
The failed libel action against The Sun has already damaged Johnny Depp's career. Photo by: AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS