Jury largely rules in favor of Johnny Depp in trial for defamation against Amber Heard

A jury has ruled in favor of Johnny Depp charge of defamation against ex-wife Amber Heard, defending his position that Heard claimed she had been abused by Depp before and during their short marriage.

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

The jury awarded Depp $15 million ($20.88 million) consisting of $10 million ($13.94 million) in damages and $5 million ($6.97 million) in punitive damages.

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

However, Virginia state law limits damages to $350,000 ($487,795), meaning Depp ended up being awarded a total of $10.35 million ($14.42 million).

The jury also found that $2 million ($2.78 million) should be paid to Heard as a result of multiple verdicts against each of them.

The verdicts, handed down at 5:20 a.m. Thursday, put an end to a televised trial that Depp had hoped would help restore his reputation, though it turned out to be a spectacle of a brutal marriage.

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

“It sets the clock back to a time when a woman who spoke out and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously,” she wrote.

“I believe Johnny’s lawyers have managed to get the jury to overlook the key issue of freedom of expression and ignore evidence so compelling that we won in the UK.

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

Amber heard
Amber Heard leaves the courthouse after the verdict is handed down. In a statement, she said she was “heartbroken” by the decision. (Getty)

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

“Six years ago, my life, the lives of my children, the lives of those closest to me, as well as the lives of the people who have supported me and believed in me for years, have changed forever,” he said. .

“All in the blink of an eye. False, very serious and criminal charges were made against me through the media, leading to an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me.

“It had already traveled around the world twice in a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career. And six years later the jury gave me my life back. I am really humiliated.”

He said his goal in the process had been to “reveal the truth” and that he was now feeling “calm”.

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

Spectators unable to enter lined the street to cheer Depp and Heard when either appeared outside.

Depp sued Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describes himself as “a public figure who represents domestic violence”.

His lawyers said he was defamed by the article, although his name was never mentioned.

Actress Amber Heard exits the Fairfax County courthouse on May 27, 2022. (AP)

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

Heard listed more than a dozen alleged attacks, including a brawl in Australia – where Depp was firing pirates of the caribbean sequel – in which Depp lost the tip of his middle finger and Heard said she was sexually assaulted with a liquor bottle.

Depp said he never hit Heard and never got out of control while drinking, although Heard’s lawyers emphasized text messages Depp sent to friends telling him about the amount of alcohol and drugs he was on at the time. used.

Her lawyers also revealed 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 contaminate her dead body.

Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck
Johnny Depp joined Jeff Beck on stage to cover a few songs in the UK even as his trial was drawing to a close. (YouTube)

In some ways, the trial was a repeat of a lawsuit Depp filed in the United Kingdom against a British tabloid after he was described as a “wife-beater”.

The judge in that case ruled in the newspaper’s favor after finding that Heard was telling the truth in her 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 regarding domestic violence — defamed him.

He also had to prove that Heard wrote the article with genuine malice.

And to claim damages, he had to prove that her article caused the damage to his reputation, unlike a number of articles before and after Heard’s piece detailing the charges against him.

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

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

“No matter what happens, I came here and I told the truth and I fought reluctantly on my back for six years,” Depp said.

In contrast, Heard said the trial has been an ordeal, brought on by an orchestrated smear campaign led by Depp.

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

The case captivated millions with its hammer-on television coverage and impassioned social media followers who dissected everything from the actors’ mannerisms to the possible symbolism of what they were wearing.

Both artists emerge from the process with a tattered reputation with unclear prospects for their careers.

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 bloodied each other.

“Now it’s getting harder for studios to hire either actor because you might alienate a large portion of your audience, who might not like that you’ve kept Johnny or Amber on a specific project because the feelings are so strong now.”

Depp, who was nominated three times for an Oscar for best actor, was until recently a star who made a lot of money.

His turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in the first pirates of the caribbean film helped make it a worldwide franchise, but it has lost that role. (Heard and Depp’s teams blame each other.)

He was also replaced as the title character in the third Fantastic Beasts spin off movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald

Despite testimonials at trial that he could be violent, abusive and out of control, Depp received a standing ovation in London on Tuesday night after performing for approximately 40 minutes with Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall.

He previously toured with Joe Perry and Alice Cooper as the group Hollywood Vampires.

Heard’s acting career was more modest, and her only two upcoming roles are in a small film and the upcoming Aquarius sequel coming out next year.

Depp’s lawyers fought to keep the case in Virginia, in part because the state law offered legal advantages compared to California, where the two live.

A judge ruled that Virginia was an acceptable forum for the case because The Washington Post’s printing presses and online servers are located in the county.

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