Jury rules mostly in favor of Johnny Depp in Amber Heard defamation lawsuit

A jury has ruled in favor of Johnny Depp in his defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, justifying her stance that Heard fabricated claims that she was abused by Depp before and during their brief marriage.

But it also ruled partly in Heard’s favor on some of her claims against her ex-husband.

The jury awarded Depp $15 million ($20.88 million) and $2 million ($2.78 million) to be heard following multiple decisions against each of them.

Actor Johnny Depp waves to supporters as he leaves the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 27, 2022. (AP)

The verdicts, delivered around 5:20 a.m. Thursday AEST, end a televised trial that Depp hoped would help restore his reputation, though it turned into a vicious wedding show.

Heard released a statement after the verdict, saying she was “heartbroken”, and blamed the “disproportionate power, influence and sway of (her) ex-husband” for the outcome.

“It takes the clock back to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It pushes back the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously,” he said. -she writes.

“I believe Johnny’s lawyers have successfully tricked the jury into ignoring the key issue of free speech and ignoring the evidence so conclusive that we won in the UK.

“I’m sad to have lost this case. But I’m even sadder to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly.”

Amber Heard
Amber Heard leaves the courthouse after the verdict. In a press release, she said she was “sorry” by this decision. (Getty)

Depp thanked the jury and his supporters in his own statement.

“Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the life of my loved ones and also the life of the people who, for many, many years, supported me and believed in me, changed forever”, did he declare.

“All in the blink of an eye. False, very serious and criminal allegations were leveled at me via the media, which sparked an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought. against me.

“He had already circled the world twice in a nanosecond and he had a seismic impact on my life and my career. And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly touched.”

He said his goal in the trial had been to “reveal the truth” and that he now felt “at peace”.

Fans – mostly on Depp’s side – lined up overnight to take seats in the courtroom.

Spectators who couldn’t get in lined the street to cheer Depp and mock Heard whenever either appeared outside.

Depp sued Heard for defamation in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing himself as “a public figure representing domestic violence”. His lawyers said he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.

Actress Amber Heard leaves the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 27, 2022. (AP)

While the case was ostensibly about defamation, most of the testimony focused on whether Heard had been physically and sexually abused, as she claimed.

Heard listed more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia – where Depp was filming a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sequel – in which Depp lost the tip of her middle finger and Heard said she had been sexually assaulted with a bottle of alcohol.

Depp said he never hit Heard and never lost control when drinking, although Heard’s lawyers pointed to text messages Depp sent to friends recounting the copious amount of alcohol and drugs he had consumed at the time.

His lawyers also showed that Depp sent text messages apologizing to Heard for his behavior and wrote profane messages to a friend in which Depp said he wanted to kill Heard and defile his corpse.

Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck
Johnny Depp joined Jeff Beck on stage to cover some songs in the UK even as his trial drew to a close. (Youtube)

In some ways, the lawsuit was a replay of a lawsuit Depp brought in the UK against a British tabloid after he was described as a “wife-beater”. The judge in that case ruled in favor of the newspaper after finding that Heard was telling the truth in his descriptions of abuse.

In the Virginia case, Depp had to prove not only that he never assaulted Heard, but that Heard’s article — which focused primarily on public policy related to domestic violence — defamed him. He also had to prove that Heard wrote the article with real malice.

And to claim damages, he had to prove that his article caused damage to his reputation, unlike a number of articles before and after Heard’s article which detailed the allegations made against him.

Depp, in his final jury testimony, said the trial gave him a chance to clear his name in a way he never allowed in the UK trial.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard attend the 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Depp and Heard together in 2016. (Getty)

“No matter what happens, I got here and spoke the truth and talked about what I’ve been carrying on my back, reluctantly, for six years.” Depp said.

Heard, on the other hand, said the lawsuit was an ordeal inflicted by an orchestrated smear campaign led by Depp.

“Johnny promised me – promised me – he would ruin my life, he would ruin my career. He would take my life,” Heard said in his final testimony.

The case captivated millions with its television coverage and passionate followers on social media who dissected everything from the actors’ mannerisms to the possible symbolism of what they wore. Both performers emerge from the trial with reputations in tatters with unclear career prospects.

Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert in Los Angeles, called the trial “a classic murder-suicide.”

“From a reputation management perspective, there can be no winners,” he said.

“They got bloodied. It’s getting harder now for studios to hire either actor because you’re potentially alienating a lot of your audience who maybe don’t like the fact that you’ve held back Johnny or Amber for a specific project because the feelings are so strong right now.”

Three-time Best Actor Oscar nominee Depp was a bankable star until recent years. His turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie helped make it a global franchise, but he lost that role. (Heard and Depp’s teams blame each other.) He was also replaced as the main character in the third “Fantastic Beasts” spin-off film, “The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

Despite testimony at trial that he may be violent, abusive and out of control, Depp received a standing ovation on Tuesday night in London after performing for around 40 minutes with Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall. He has already toured with Joe Perry and Alice Cooper in the group Hollywood Vampires.

Heard’s acting career has been more modest, and her only two upcoming roles are in a small movie and the upcoming sequel “Aquaman” due out next year.

Depp’s attorneys fought to keep the case in Virginia, in part because state law offered certain legal advantages over California, where the two reside. A judge ruled that Virginia was an acceptable forum for the case because the Washington Post’s printing presses and online servers are in the county.

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