Jury Rules Amber Heard Defamed Johnny Depp In Domestic Abuse Op-Ed


A jury in Fairfax, Virginia, ruled Wednesday that Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp in a 2018 op-ed she wrote in which she described herself as a “public victim representing domestic abuse,” after a six-week trial in a lawsuit brought by her ex-husband that gripped the attention of millions, but the jury also ruled for Heard in one portion of her countersuit.

Key Facts

The jury deliberated for less than two full days before deciding that the claims made by Heard in her Washington Post op-ed were false and defamed Depp.

Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, but the judge capped the latter award to $350,000, in line with state law.

Heard won part of her $100 million countersuit over statements made by Depp’s representative calling her claims of abuse a hoax, and was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and no punitive damages.

The jury found Heard’s statements in her op-ed met all the qualifications for defamation against Heard, including that she acted with actual malice, and that her statements were made about Depp even though she didn’t name him.

Depp was not present in court, as he had “previously scheduled work commitments in the U.K.” NBC News reported; He performed this week with Jeff Beck in London.

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” Heard said in a statement to Forbes.

Big Number

$3.4 million. That’s how many people were watching a live stream of the verdict reading.

Key Background

Depp’s lawyers argued that the insinuation he abused Heard cost him his film career, including roles in future Pirates Of The Caribbean films. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million after his lawyer said her allegations were a hoax. After Depp and Heard divorced in 2016, she filed a temporary restraining order against him. During the trial, dozens of witnesses, including Heard and Depp, took the stand to paint two distinctly different stories of Depp and Heard’s tumultuous relationship. Heard’s attorneys and witnesses accused Depp of physically, emotionally and sexually abusing her, and said his frequent bouts of anger were fueled by constant drug and alcohol use. Depp’s team painted Heard as the aggressor and abuser in the relationship, and he denied ever laying a hand on her. Other witnesses included Heard’s sister, an executive from the ACLU and supermodel Kate Moss. The televised trial lasted six weeks, and thousands of viewers tuned in to the trial’s live stream every day.

Further Reading

Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Defamation Trial Handed Off To Jury (Forbes)

Amber Heard Trial: Kate Moss Finally Testifies Depp Never Pushed Her Down Steps (Forbes)

Kate Moss’ Connection To The Johnny Depp Amber Heard Defamation Trial, Explained (Forbes)

Amber Heard’s Sister, Former Friend Say They Saw Signs Of Johnny Depp’s Abuse (Forbes)

​​Amber Heard Says Johnny Depp ‘Tried To Kill Me’ As Cross-Examination Ends (Forbes)

Amber Heard Accuses Johnny Depp Of Sexual, Physical Abuse On Stand In Defamation Trial (Forbes)

Amber Heard ‘Felt Nothing’ For Elon Musk, Psychologist Testifies During Defamation Trial (Forbes)

Musk Likely Paid Portion Of Amber Heard’s Pledged ACLU Donations, Exec Testifies (Forbes)

Johnny Depp Defamation Trial: Here Are The Key Moments From The Actor’s Testimony (Forbes)

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