• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jurors are now deliberating a verdict in Johnny Depp's trial against Amber Heard. Here's what they need to decide.

·5-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
johnny depp amber heard trial jury
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Fairfax County Court, Virginia, in the last week of their defamation trial.Steve Helber/Pool via REUTERS; Steve Helber/Pool via REUTERS
  • Jurors have begun deliberating the verdict in the trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.

  • They must determine whether Heard defamed Depp by describing herself as a figure representing domestic abuse.

  • They're also weighing Heard's counterclaim that Depp's lawyer defamed her by calling her allegations a hoax.

Jurors have begun deliberating the case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, tasked with reviewing whether one of them defamed the other through dueling narratives of domestic abuse.

Heard filed for divorce against Depp in May 2016. Around the same time, she filed a restraining order against him, which included photos of her bruised face that made the cover of People magazine.

It marked the end of 15 months of marriage and around 4 years of Depp and Heard being a couple. The restraining order gave a blow to the reputation of a man who had starred in movie franchises worth billions of dollars. The two later released a joint statement describing their relationship as "intensely passionate and at times volatile," but claimed that neither intentionally hurt the other or made false accusations.

In March 2019, Depp brought the defamation lawsuit against Heard. It alleged she defamed him by describing herself as a victim of domestic violence in a December 2018 Washington Post op-ed titled "I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."

The article didn't mention Depp by name, but Depp's lawsuit argued that it made clear references to their relationship. Furthermore, Depp alleged, it was Heard who physically and verbally abused him during their relationship — not the other way around. He asked for $50 million in damages.

Heard denied the allegations and filed a counterclaim against Depp. She alleged that Depp did, in fact, physically assault him throughout their relationship, which he did while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. She also alleged that Depp defamed her by calling her a liar. She asked for $100 million in damages.

The jurors must consider both cases at the same time, as well as the damages.

Over six weeks in the Fairfax County, Virginia courthouse, lawyers for Depp and Heard presented evidence they say backed up their cases. It included explosive testimony from Depp, who said Heard belittled him for his age and once whipped herself up into such a frenzy that she threw a glass vodka bottle at his hand, severing the tip of his right middle finger. And it included explosive testimony from Heard, who said Depp sexually assaulted her with his fingers and with a bottle, and whose own rage and jealousy was activated by nightlong cocaine and alcohol binges.

The trial plumbed the depths of each parties' lives, exposing details about their financial lives and childhood physical abuse, that the American Civil Liberties Union ghostwrote the Washington Post op-ed, and that Depp appeared to snort cocaine with a tampon applicator.

Each side presented their closing arguments earlier on Friday. Here are the facts the jury must unanimously decide are "more likely than not" true in order to decide liability, according to the presiding judge, Penney Azcarate:

Here's what jurors need to determine

For Depp to win his claim against Heard, jurors need to determine that the following parts of the Washington Post op-ed were made by Heard about Depp, were false, and were made with "actual malice." The "actual malice" standard means that the jury must find Heard made them knowing they were false, or with "reckless disregard" for the truth.

  • The article's online headline "I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change." Heard didn't write the headline, but Depp's lawyers argued she "republished" it by tweeting the article.

  • The sentence "Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out."

  • The sentence "I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse."

After all that, jurors may establish how much to issue in compensatory or punitive damages — or both — against Heard and for Depp.

In Heard's case against Depp, jurors are looking at statements made by Adam Waldman, a former lawyer for Depp who was kicked off the Virginia case in 2020 and who has claimed Heard's allegations of abuse were a hoax.

For Heard to win her claim, jurors need to determine that Waldman's allegations were made as part of his role as Depp's "agent," whether they're about Heard, whether they're false, and whether they were made with "actual malice." The statements in question include:

  • A quote he gave to the Daily Mail saying, "Quite simply this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr. Depp up by calling the cops, but the first attempt didn't do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property. So Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then placed a second call to 911."

  • Another quote to the Daily Mail, that "[W]e have reached the beginning of the end of Ms. Heard's abuse hoax against Johnny Depp."

Jurors are also weighing compensatory and punitive damages for Heard's claim. Her lawyers have said that Heard's career never took off in the way it should have after her high-profile roles in "Justice League" and "Aquaman."

There remains a chance that the jury could find both or neither side liable in the trial, arriving at a conclusion that does not adopt either side's narrative.

Depp previously lost a defamation case against The Sun, a British tabloid, which called him a "wife beater" because of Heard's allegations.

He lost that case, with a London judge finding Heard's testimony there "substantially true," but his case brought stateside is far more detailed, and includes Heard personally as a defendant.

Azcarate said jurors may continue deliberating into Friday night "within reason." If they don't reach a verdict today, they are scheduled to continue deliberating on Tuesday, after Memorial Day weekend.

Read the original article on Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting