Jurors began their deliberations Friday in the civil libel trial between actors Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, following six weeks of courtroom drama that peeled again the curtain on the celebrities’ troubled marriage.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court docket over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Put up describing herself as “a public determine representing home abuse.”
Decide Penney Azcarate gave the jury its directions Friday morning, forward of the beginning of closing arguments from Depp and Heard’s attorneys. When the jury deliberates, it must focus not solely on whether or not there was abuse but in addition whether or not Heard’s op-ed piece could be thought-about legally defamatory.
The article itself focuses totally on coverage questions of home violence, however Depp’s lawyer pointed to 2 passages within the article, in addition to a web based headline that they are saying defamed Depp, though the article by no means talked about his title.
“She did not point out his title. She did not need to,” mentioned Depp lawyer Benjamin Chew. “Everybody knew precisely who and what Ms. Heard was speaking about.”
Within the first passage, Heard writes that “two years in the past, I turned a public determine representing home abuse, and I felt the total pressure of our tradition’s wrath.” Depp’s attorneys name it a transparent reference to Depp, on condition that Heard publicly accused Depp of home violence in 2016 – two years earlier than she wrote the article.
In a second passage she states “I had the uncommon vantage level of seeing, in actual time, how establishments shield males accused of abuse.”
The net headline reads “Amber Heard: I spoke up towards sexual violence – and confronted our tradition’s wrath.”
Heard “ruined his life by falsely telling the world she was a survivor of home abuse by the hands of Mr. Depp,” lawyer Camille Vasquez instructed the jury in closing arguments.
Heard’s attorneys argue Heard cannot be held answerable for the headline as a result of she did not write it, and that the 2 passages within the article should not in regards to the abuse allegations themselves however how Heard’s life modified after she made them.
Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim towards Depp after his lawyer known as her allegations a hoax. Although the counterclaim has obtained much less consideration on the trial, Heard lawyer Elaine Bredehoft mentioned it supplies an avenue for the jury to compensate Heard for the abuse Depp has inflicted on her by orchestrating a smear marketing campaign towards her.
“We’re asking you to lastly maintain this man accountable,” she instructed the jury. “He has by no means accepted accountability for something in his life.”
Depp says he by no means struck Heard and that she concocted the abuse allegations to realize a bonus in divorce proceedings. He has mentioned he was typically bodily attacked by Heard.
Jurors have seen a number of images of Heard with marks and bruises on her face, however some images present solely delicate redness, and others seem to point out extra extreme bruising.
Vasquez accused Heard of doctoring the images and mentioned proof that Heard has embellished a few of her accidents is proof that each one her claims of abuse are unfounded.
“You both consider all of it, or none of it,” she mentioned. “Both she is a sufferer of ugly, horrible abuse, or she is a lady who’s keen to say completely something.”
In Heard’s closing, lawyer J. Benjamin Rottenborn mentioned the nitpicking over Heard’s proof of abuse ignores the actual fact there’s overwhelming proof on her behalf and sends a harmful message to domestic-violence victims.
“For those who did not take footage, it did not occur,” Rottenborn mentioned. “For those who did take footage, they’re faux. For those who did not inform your mates, they’re mendacity. For those who did inform your mates, they’re a part of the hoax.”
And he rejected Vasquez’s suggestion that if the jury thinks Heard is likely to be embellishing on a single act of abuse that they need to disregard every little thing she says. He mentioned Depp’s libel declare should fail if Heard suffered even a single incident of abuse.
“They’re attempting to trick you into pondering Amber needs to be good to win,” Rottenborn mentioned.
Rottenborn instructed jurors that even when they have an inclination to consider Depp’s declare that he by no means abused Heard, he nonetheless cannot win his case as a result of Heard has a First Modification proper to weigh in on issues of public debate.
Depp is hoping the six-week trial will assist restore his fame, although it has become a spectacle of a vicious marriage, with broadcast cameras within the courtroom capturing each twist to an more and more rapt viewers as followers weighed in on social media and lined up in a single day for coveted courtroom seats.