Amber Heard’s legal team may be planning to have Johnny Depp perform again, but experts say there’s a reason that could work against her.
Amber Heard recalling Johnny Depp could be a “risk” in part because of how sympathetic he was when he first testified at a libel lawsuit he brought against his ex-wife, legal experts said.
But such a plan could backfire, as the actor, who had been on the witness stand for four days, came across believable and sympathetic to the jury, experts said. Giving him a second round in the stands could inadvertently hurt Heard’s cause.
“There is a risk that he will have more time to be sympathetic in the stands,” said Attorney General Katherine Lizardo, “when it is actually Amber Heard’s time to present her case.”
Seattle defamation attorney Bruce Johnson agreed that Depp’s apparent sympathy could be a problem for Heard.
“That’s a huge risk if he’s a good witness and he’s going to perform well again,” Johnson said The mail†
Halim Dhanidina, a criminal defense attorney and former judge in California, said Depp’s “very unique personality” probably made him attractive to the jury the first time.
“He didn’t really strike me as someone who put on an act or was made up,” he said. “The jury will want to know if they can rely on testimonies based not on how smart the witness appears, but how sincere they are.”
Depp, 58, is suing his 36-year-old ex-wife for $50 million ($A70 million), accusing her of defaming him when she called herself “a public figure who represents domestic violence” in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.
Heard has filed a $100 million ($A134 million) counterclaim, alleging that it was Depp who defamed her by accusing her of lying about the alleged abuse.
Her side now presents its case, concluding with Heard’s fourth day in the stands on Tuesday, and continues to call witnesses for closing arguments, expected on May 27.
“Right now we’re hearing Amber Heard’s… side of the story,” Mrs. Lizardo said.
“Calling her opponent to speak on your behalf sounds counterintuitive.”
Dhanidina noted that Depp could try to gain the “advantage” if he gets the chance to address the jury again.
“If he’s landed on the jury and if the jury likes him, then more jury time is a good thing for him,” he said. “It could be something that [Heard] does out of necessity, but that [Depp] can take advantage of itself.”
Jurors, however, would not be given an explanation as to why Depp is back in the stands, which could “confuse them,” Ms Lizardo added.
“Usually it sounds hostile when you cross-examine,” she said. “A jury might think, ‘Okay, he’s back in the stands. Are they teasing him again?’”
Defamation attorney Johnson also said Heard’s team should consider whether calling Depp again will draw the jury’s attention, as some jurors have reportedly dozed off as the trial extends into week five.
“You’re performing in front of a jury and you don’t want to drag it on,” said Mr Johnson. “With any long trial, that’s a consideration.”
However, some experts said Heard’s legal team could gain the upper hand over Depp if they brought him back on track.
“I suspect they would like to cut” [Depp] custom,” Virginia defamation attorney Jeremiah Denton told The mail†
“He did pretty well on his first appearance in the stands, so I think they feel like they must necessarily attack his credibility – it could be his memory, his veracity [or] cover something that isn’t covered,’ Mr Denton said.
Dhanidina said Heard’s lawyers may be able to overwhelm Depp with their questions, as they will likely have “new topics and new areas,” including topics they weren’t allowed to question the first time around.
But the more time Depp has in the stands, the more likely he is to slip and contradict something he’s said before, the pundits all agreed.
“The more a witness talks, the more likely he is to say things that are easily contradicted,” Johnson said. “Even if they try to be honest, we all have amnesia.”
Dhanidina said he can’t predict which side would benefit more from a second Depp stint in the stands, but if it did, it would certainly grab the world’s attention.
“Brace yourself, because it’s going to be very, very interesting,” he said.
“Every time one side is questioned by the other side, it can be very, very difficult to predict who is going to win and whether it looks like a chess match or a knockdown, drag-out fight,” Dhanidina said. . “And we don’t really know what we’re going to get.”
Depp and Heard’s representatives both declined to comment.
This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission
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