The City University of New York deleted a profile of a graduate who was the youngest member of Johnny Depp’s legal team in his defamation trial against Amber Heard.
Yarleyn Mena, 29, a 2015 graduate of CUNY’s Hunter College and a Brown Rudnick LLP associate, was originally touted for her work in helping Depp win a $10.35 million verdict in the heated trial that captured the nation’s attention.
The show of support for the graduate, however, went out the door after CUNY said it received concerns from students and faculty over the profile piece as they offered an apology.
‘We understand the strong negative emotions this article elicited and apologize for publishing the item,’ the public university system said in a statement replacing the link to the story on Mena.
‘The article was not meant to convey support for Mr. Depp, implicitly or otherwise, or to call into question any allegations that were made by Amber Heard,’ CUNY added.
‘Domestic violence is a serious issue in our society and we regret any pain this article may have caused.’
Yarleyn Mena, 29, a 2015 graduate of CUNY’s Hunter College and a Brown Rudnick LLP associate, was the youngest attorney on Johnny Depp’s legal team
Depp (right) secured the Brown Rudnick team, which included Camille Vasquez (left), who helped the actor win a $10.35 million verdict against ex-wife Amber Heard
Mena (third from the left) shared hugs with her team as they secured the verdict on June 1 in the widely publicized trial. Her inclusion in the team was touted by her alma matter on August 3 before CUNY deleted the story following backlash from students and faculty
In the original article, which was published on August 3, the headline on the CUNYverse newsletter read, ‘This CUNY grad was the Youngest Lawyer to Serve on Johnny Depp’s Legal Team.’
It included an overview of Mena, the daughter of two lawyers who came from the Dominican Republic, who earned her law degree from Fordham University.
In the article she described her role on the legal team, led by Benjamin Chew, in the Depp v. Heard trial.
‘I worked with the team on the opening and closing and was the master of the facts of all the evidence,’ Mena said. ‘If someone needed pictures or text messages, I would look them up and assist everyone as we went along.’
She added that the legal team was incredibly focused on the trial and were mostly unaware of the spectacle it had become, adding that in the aftermath, it was exciting to know that such a big case was the first one she got to appear in trial.
‘I am a third year associate and am fortunate to have worked a trial so early in my career. Most cases don’t go to trial,’ she noted.
‘We were focused on the case around the clock and almost lived in a bubble throughout the trial so the pressure from the spotlight didn’t affect us as much on a day to day.
‘We are a tight knit team that kept each other grounded and fixed on our client’s needs.’
The article also included tips from Mena to other students on how to stand out in law school applications and avoid the pressures of college.
Neither CUNY nor Mena immediately responded to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Pictured: Mena (center) during her graduation from CUNY’s Hunter College in 2015 as she’s accompanied by her parents, both lawyers who immigrated from the Dominican Republic
Although CUNY claimed it received backlash over the article, the decision to take it down stoked its own wave of criticism, with CUNY Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson condemning the move.
‘Not a good look for CUNY, to put it mildly,’ he tweeted.
‘One line of the institution’s [groveling] apology could even be read as casting doubt on the jury’s verdict in the civil case,’ he added.
‘CUNY’s message to talented young grads who go into the law seems to be – we’ll celebrate you only if we institutionally approve of your client.’
Despite concluding in June, the Depp v. Heard trial continues to be a hot-button issue after the jury in Fairfax Virginia awarded Depp $10.35 million in damages.
The jury ultimately found that Heard defamed him in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed where she referred to herself as a domestic abuse survivor.
The jury also awarded Heard $2 million in her countersuit that Depp and his representative defamed her following her initial claims against him.
Both Heard and Depp have said they’re filing an appeal over the verdicts.