Jury Deliberations Begin in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Defamation Trial
fter six weeks of testimony from Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s legal teams, both sides delivered closing arguments today, and jury deliberations began. The seven-person jury must now reach a verdict on whether Depp’s ex-wife’s domestic violence claims, which stem from a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post, Depp were defamatory. Heard has countersued Depp for $100 million, claiming damages from Depp’s suit and statements from his lawyers.
After more than 100 hours worth of testimony Judge Penney Azcarate gave instructions to the jury about how they should proceed with their deliberations. For Depp’s defamation suit, a conclusion must be made about whether Heard’s op-ed was false, defamatory, showed actual malice, and was in reference to Depp. For Heard’s countersuit, a conclusion must be made about whether Depp’s lawyer Adam Waldman statements—which described Heard’s claims as “a hoax”—were defamatory to Heard.
Depp’s team’s closing statements
Depp’s lawyers Camille Vasquez and Ben Chew both took turns on the stand, providing highlights of various witness testimony clips, asserting to the jurors that Heard allegedly fabricated her arguments and should be considered “the real abuser.”
“He has lost nothing less than everything because of Ms. Heard’s lies,” Chew said. Depp’s team also referenced previous testimonies alleging that Heard showed symptoms of borderline personality disorder, and noting that she didn’t yet donate her full $7 million divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union as promised. The lawyers suggested that she could have provided TMZ with a tip in advance of Depp’s Los Angeles court filing a restraining orders against her six years ago.
“This is not a Me Too situation,” Vasquez said. “There are no me too’s, just not me’s”—a reference to Heard releasing the op-ed in 2018, within the height of the #MeToo movement.
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Heard’s team’s closing statements
Heard’s lawyers Benjamin Rottenborn and Elaine Bredehoft countered Depp’s team’s arguments, claiming that Depp is the real “monster” and that the evidence overwhelmingly leaned in Heard’s favor. Their closing arguments included various photos, videos, and audio clips that referenced Depp’s alleged drug and alcohol abuse and alleged violent behavior and language. They also defended Heard’s right to the First Amendment of freedom of speech.
“It’s not about whether you think Ms. Heard may have been abusive to Mr. Depp,” said Rottenborn. “Remember, if you think they were both abusive to each other, then Amber wins.”
The next steps?
After both sides have decided to rest their case, deliberations are now suspended. The jury will resume deliberations May 31 after the holiday weekend if they fail to reach a decision by Friday night. Judge Azcarte has granted Heard’s request to seal the jury’s identities for up to a year.
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