After a jury found that Amber Heard had lied when she claimed that Johnny Depp had abused them, a defamation lawsuit was filed against him Wednesday.
Depp, who was not in court Wednesday due to a previously scheduled work commitment, sued for $50 million in damages over a 2018 opinion-editorial essay by Heard in The Washington Post, in which she said she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” His attorneys claimed that the essay indirectly referenced allegations she made against Depp during their 2016 divorce.
Unanimously, the jury found that Heard couldn’t support her accusations against Depp and that she knew that her abuse claims were false when she published her 2018 essay.
The jury found that Heard acted with actual malice while writing her op ed. Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages, $5 million in punitive damages and $5 million for his defamation suit.
Depp released a statement Wednesday saying that the goal of this case was to uncover the truth from the beginning. “Speaking out the truth was something that my children and all those who supported me have owed to me. Knowing that I’ve achieved that goal, I feel content.
Depp claimed that the jury had given him his life back. I am truly humbled.”
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Heard countersued Depp for $100 million, claiming that she only ever acted in self-defense or to defend her younger sister. Heard filed a countersuit around three statements by Adam Waldman, Depp’s former attorney in 2020 to Daily Mail. Waldman described Heard’s allegations of abuse in a “hoax”.
Depp, through Waldman was found guilty of one count of defaming Heard. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and $0 in punitive damage by the jury.
After three days of deliberations, the panel came to a decision after 13 hours. The highly publicized trial took place in Fairfax County, Virginia for approximately six weeks and was broadcast all over the country. It drew many headlines.
Public figures such as actors can file a claim for defamation in the U.S. They are often considered difficult cases due to the higher standard that a plaintiff must prove.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1964 that defamation suits brought by notable figures must not only prove the claims were false and caused them damage, but that the person who made the defamatory statement did so with “actual malice.”
Heard made a statement Wednesday saying that “the sadness I feel today is beyond all words.” It is heartbreaking that the mountains of evidence did not suffice to withstand the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex husband.
She stated, “I’m even less disappointed with the verdict for other women.” It’s a setback. It sends back the time when women who spoke out publicly could be shamed and humiliated. It makes it clear that violence against women must be taken seriously.
Depp lost a libel suit in the United Kingdom 2 years ago due to allegations that he had hit Heard.
Depp sued The Sun’s parent company and its executive editor in 2018 for calling him a “wife-beater”. Justice Andrew Nicol ruled in favor of Depp in 2020. He stated that the British tabloid had provided substantial evidence that Depp had been violent against Heard at least 12 times out of 14.
Heard, in a statement Wednesday, stated that she believes Depp’s “attorneys succeeded to get the jury overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech” and ignore evidence that was conclusive enough that the UK won.
She said, “I am sad that I lost this case.” “But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”
Depp claimed that he has lost “nothing less” than all of Heard’s essays and that they have controlled his every waking moment.
“What did it do for me?” What was the effect on me? I’ll put it to you this way: No matter the outcome of this trial, the second the allegations were made against me … once that happened, I lost then,” he said.
Heard first claimed in 2016 that Depp battered her when she filed for protective orders. He threw a telephone at her. She swore to the court in a declaration that she was living “in terror that Johnny will come back to”. [our house]Unannounced terror to me, emotionally and physically.”
Depp claimed that he did not know about the incident and went to Heard’s penthouse to talk to him about his desire to file for divorcement. Depp and Heard had a heated conversation and Depp left the room with Heard. He claimed that he then tossed Heard’s cellphone on the sofa after hearing her laugh about him to a friend.
Depp stated, “It was a difficult couple of days and I really didn’t feel like that kind of treatment should be given.”
Depp’s legal team summoned to the witness stand two officers from 2016 who were on the scene. They claimed that they didn’t observe any physical injury to Heard and noted that her face was reddened by emotion. She also wasn’t cooperative.
Heard stated to the court that she didn’t call 911 during 2016 argument and decided not to cooperate police because she feared Depp would be arrested.
Depp’s legal team claimed that Heard feigned injuries and doctored photos of her with bruises as part of a long-running attempt to get a financial advantage during a divorce. Heard denied that she ever staged or altered photos for her abuse claims.
Depp’s lawyers accused Heard, while she was cross-examinating her, of being the abuser in their relationship. She also said that she had lied about fearing him.
Heard denies that she abused Depp. She said she struck him only to protect herself and her sister after Depp initiated a violent attack.
Depp and Heard both took the stand and offered their views on their five-year-long relationship and volatile arguments. Their testimonies were similar in some ways — both describing an instant infatuation that evolved into a roller coaster romance — but differed as to the source of the acrimonious end.
Depp testified that he believed Heard was the right partner at first. He recalled how they bonded over their love for obscure music and literature. Depp stated that Heard became volatile after a year and started to incite arguments about small matters.
Depp said that she had a “need to conflict.” Depp stated that Heard sometimes would “strike out”, whether it was a slap, a shove, or throwing something at her.
Depp stated, “It’s difficult to explain, but the argument might start here, but it will roll around and become a circular thing of its very own.” “You’d go back to the beginning. … Now it’s heightened even more and it’s still circular. There’s no exit or way in.”
Heard was critical of Depp’s use of alcohol and drugs in their relationship. However, Heard said that she never stopped using substances around Depp. Depp denied ever being intoxicated or having an alcohol addiction.
Heard, who was being cross-examined, stated that she only used illicit drugs in Depp’s presence in their relationship twice.
“I did a lot more changing to support his sobriety. Heard shared that he tried all he could to support his sobriety.
Depp stated these words during his testimony Heard would get into fights with him, and escalate the situation until physical violence was effected.
Heard said she would raise concerns about Depp’s drug and alcohol abuse. This would lead to arguments. She also stated that they had discussed how to deal with disagreements in couple therapy.
Depp lived in Australia for part of 2015 to film the fifth installment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He stated that Heard traveled to Australia in March 2015, after she had finished filming in London. He also said that the couple had a dispute over a postnuptial arrangement.
Heard, he claimed, followed him through several rooms of his rented Australia home to try and escape the argument. Heard then began drinking in the bar area. Heard finally found him and continued the argument. He then threw two vodka shots at him.
Depp claimed that broken glass from one the bottles had severed his tip of the finger. This led to surgery and delays in filming.
Heard refuted the allegation and testified that Depp was on a multiday drug- and alcohol binge. She stated that Depp was in a fit and yelled at her. He also destroyed the house. Heard claimed that Depp may have cut her finger while smashing a phone on the wall.
After the couple’s arguments, Depp admitted that he caused damage to the house and testified that he suffered from a “kind nervous breakdown”. Heard claimed that he had told him the truth, even though his finger was cut.
Ben King, who was an estate manager for Depp and was sent to Australia by Depp, said that he had never seen a phone be smashed after the couple’s argument. He also stated that he didn’t notice anything unusual about Heard’s appearance other than his red eyes from crying.
Depp’s legal team submitted many audio recordings of their arguments as evidence. One file included Heard apparently admitting that he had “hit” him while simultaneously denying that she punched him.
Heard testified that Depp was hit while she was defending herself and that the audio was later recorded during a verbal argument.
Hear him scream at me for hitting him as he tried to go through the door. Heard claimed that I was trying barricade.
Depp’s lawyers called several witnesses, including Heard’s former assistant, Depp’s security team, Depp’s sister, Depp’s counselor, who conducted couple’s counseling during their marriage, as well as Depp’s forensic psychologist.
Heard’s ex-assistant described Heard as “belligerent and abusive” during their working relationship. Depp’s legal team hired a forensic psychologist to testify that she diagnosed Heard as having borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorders. This was later refuted by Heard’s own psychologist.
Depp’s security personnel testified that Depp never assaulted Heard, but they also attested to the fact that their relationship became volatile and that they hurled “verbal vitriol at each other.”
Heard’s defense called many witnesses to testify that she saw bruises on her while she was with Depp. These included Raquel Pennington, iO Tillet Wright, and two of her close friends at the time. Also, she had a forensic psychologist testify against the personality disorder diagnosis and instead tell the court that Heard had posttraumatic stress disorder.
Depp spoke Wednesday to say that he is overwhelmed by the outpourings of love and the overwhelming support and kindness from all over the world.
He said, “I hope my quest for the truth will have helped other men and women who find themselves in my position, and that those supporting them never stop believing.” “I hope the situation will return to innocent until proven guilty in both the courts and the media.”