Johnny Depp gained a defamation swimsuit Wednesday in opposition to his former spouse Amber Heard after a jury discovered that she had lied in saying that Depp had abused her over the course of their relationship.
Depp, who was not in courtroom Wednesday resulting from a beforehand scheduled work dedication, sued for $50 million in damages over a 2018 opinion-editorial essay by Heard in The Washington Post, during which she mentioned she had grow to be a “public determine representing home abuse.” Though the essay by no means talked about Depp by title, his attorneys mentioned it not directly referred to allegations she made in opposition to him throughout their 2016 divorce.
The jury unanimously discovered that Heard couldn’t substantiate her allegations in opposition to Depp and that she knew her claims of abuse have been false when she revealed her 2018 essay.
The jury decided that Heard acted with precise malice when writing her op-ed. The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in his defamation swimsuit.
“From the very starting, the aim of bringing this case was to disclose the reality, whatever the end result,” Depp mentioned in an announcement on Wednesday. “Talking the reality was one thing that I owed to my kids and to all those that have remained steadfast of their help of me. I really feel at peace realizing I’ve lastly completed that.”
Depp mentioned “the jury gave me my life again. I’m really humbled.”
Heard had countersued for $100 million and mentioned she was solely ever violent with Depp in self-defense or protection of her youthful sister. Heard’s countersuit centered round three statements made by Depp’s former lawyer Adam Waldman in 2020 to the Every day Mail, during which he described Heard’s allegations of abuse as a “hoax.”
The jury discovered that Depp, by means of Waldman, defamed Heard on one depend. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in compensatory damages, however $0 in punitive damages.
The panel, which started deliberations on Friday, got here to its resolution after roughly 13 hours over the course of three days. The high-profile trial, which occurred over about six weeks in Fairfax County, Virginia, was broadcast throughout the nation and drew quite a few headlines.
Defamation claims filed within the U.S. by public figures, resembling an actor, are generally regarded as tough circumstances to win as a result of increased normal a plaintiff should show.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1964 that defamation fits introduced by notable figures should not solely show the claims have been false and prompted them injury, however that the one who made the defamatory assertion did so with “precise malice.”
In an announcement on Wednesday, Heard mentioned that “the frustration I really feel at present is past phrases. I am heartbroken that the mountain of proof nonetheless was not sufficient to face as much as the disproportionate energy, affect, and sway of my ex-husband.”
“I am much more dissatisfied with what this verdict means for different ladies,” she mentioned. “It’s a setback. It units again the clock to a time when a girl who spoke up and spoke out might be publicly shamed and humiliated. It units again the concept that violence in opposition to ladies is to be taken severely.”
The jury’s resolution marks a authorized redemption for Depp, who misplaced a libel case in the UK two years in the past over allegations that he hit Heard.
Depp sued the mother or father firm that owns The Solar and the newspaper’s government editor for calling him a “spouse beater” in 2018. Justice Andrew Nicol dominated in opposition to Depp in 2020, saying the British tabloid had offered substantial proof to indicate that Depp was violent in opposition to Heard on a minimum of 12 of 14 events.
In her assertion Wednesday, Heard mentioned she believes Depp’s “attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to miss the important thing problem of Freedom of Speech and ignore proof that was so conclusive that we gained within the UK.”
“I am unhappy I misplaced this case,” she mentioned. “However I’m sadder nonetheless that I appear to have misplaced a proper I assumed I had as an American — to talk freely and overtly.”
In the course of the trial, Depp testified that he misplaced “nothing lower than every little thing” after Heard’s essay was revealed and that the allegations have managed his “each waking second.”
“What did it do to me? What impact did it have on me? I am going to put it to you this manner: Regardless of the result of this trial, the second the allegations have been made in opposition to me … as soon as that occurred, I misplaced then,” he mentioned.
Heard initially alleged in 2016 when she filed for a protecting order that Depp bruised her after he threw a cellphone at her. She wrote in a sworn declaration to the courtroom that she was residing “in worry that Johnny will return to [our house] unannounced to terrorize me, bodily and emotionally.”
Depp denied the incident, saying he went to the couple’s penthouse the day after his mom died to talk to Heard about his want to file for divorce. In that dialog, Depp and Heard argued, and he tossed her cellphone on the sofa after he heard her laughing about him to a buddy, in response to his testimony.
“It was a tricky couple of days, and I actually did not really feel like I deserved that type of therapy,” Depp mentioned.
In the course of the trial, Depp’s authorized staff referred to as to the witness stand two cops who responded to the scene in 2016. The officers mentioned they didn’t observe bodily harm to Heard, noting her face appeared crimson with emotion, and that she was uncooperative.
Heard informed the courtroom she didn’t name 911 throughout the 2016 argument and selected to not cooperate with police as a result of she feared they may arrest Depp, whom she was attempting to guard.
Depp’s authorized staff accused Heard of faking accidents and doctoring images of herself with bruises in a yearslong try to achieve a monetary benefit in a divorce. Heard denied ever staging or doctoring images in her abuse allegations.
Depp’s attorneys accused Heard of being the abuser within the relationship whereas cross-examining her and mentioned that she lied about ever fearing him.
Heard has denied abusing Depp, saying she solely ever struck him in protection of herself or her sister after Depp had initiated a violent assault.
Depp and Heard every took the stand, providing their views on the course of their roughly five-year relationship and the risky arguments they shared. Their testimonies have been comparable in some methods — each describing an instantaneous infatuation that developed right into a curler coaster romance — however differed as to the supply of the acrimonious finish.
In his testimony, Depp informed the courtroom he initially believed Heard to be the best accomplice for him, recounting how the 2 bonded over a love of literature and obscure music. However a couple of yr or so into the connection, Depp mentioned Heard grew to become risky and instigated arguments over small issues.
He accused her of getting a “want for battle.” Depp mentioned Heard would generally “strike out,” whether or not it was a slap or a shove or throwing one thing at him.
“It is laborious to clarify, however the argument would begin right here, however it might roll round and grow to be this round factor of its personal,” Depp mentioned. “You’d get again to the start. … Now it is heightened much more and it is nonetheless round. There isn’t any manner in or out.”
Heard took problem with Depp’s consumption of alcohol and medicines throughout their relationship, he mentioned, although she by no means curbed her personal substance use round him. He denied ever being uncontrolled whereas below the affect or having an habit to alcohol.
Whereas below cross-examination, Heard mentioned she solely consumed illicit substances in Depp’s presence early twice of their relationship.
“I did a variety of altering to help his sobriety. I attempted every little thing that I might probably consider,” Heard mentioned.
Throughout his testimony, Depp mentioned Heard would choose fights with him and escalate them till bodily violence ensued.
Heard mentioned that she would categorical concern over Depp’s drug and alcohol abuse, which might escalate into arguments. She additionally testified that the couple had spoken about how you can method disagreements in couple’s remedy.
Depp resided in Australia for a portion of 2015 as a way to movie the fifth installment of Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. He testified that Heard flew out to stick with him in March 2015 after she wrapped filming on a film in London and that the couple had a battle concerning a postnuptial settlement.
He informed the courtroom that Heard adopted him round a number of rooms within the rented Australia residence as he tried to flee the argument, till he started ingesting within the bar space of the residence. Heard finally sought him out, persevering with the argument, and threw two vodka bottles at him, he mentioned.
Depp testified that damaged glass from one of many two bottles severed the tip of his finger, leading to surgical procedure and a delay in filming.
Heard denied the allegation, testifying as an alternative that Depp was within the midst of a multiday binge of medicine and alcohol. She testified that he had a match of rage and assaulted her throughout that point, in addition to trashing the house. Heard mentioned she believed Depp might have severed his finger whereas smashing a cellphone that was mounted on the wall.
Depp admitted to inflicting injury on the residence after the couple’s arguments, testifying that he had a “type of nervous breakdown” after his finger was severed, however he denied Heard’s account of what occurred.
Ben King, who labored for Depp as an property supervisor and was introduced out by Depp to Australia, testified that he by no means noticed a cellphone smashed following the couple’s argument. He additionally mentioned he didn’t observe something uncommon in Heard’s bodily look, aside from crimson eyes from crying.
Depp’s authorized staff submitted quite a few audio recordings of the couple’s arguments into proof, one file of which included Heard seemingly admitting to having “hit” Depp whereas concurrently denying that she punched him.
Heard testified that the hit occurred when she was defending herself in opposition to Depp and that the audio was recorded in a verbal argument concerning the matter later.
“I accused him of being a child for complaining about me hitting him when he was attempting to get by means of the door. I used to be attempting to barricade,” Heard mentioned.
Depp’s attorneys referred to as quite a few witnesses, together with Heard’s former assistant, Depp’s safety staff, Depp’s sister, a counselor who carried out couple’s remedy throughout their marriage, and a forensic psychologist employed by Depp’s authorized staff.
Heard’s former assistant described her as “belligerent” and “abusive” throughout their working relationship. The forensic psychologist employed by Depp’s authorized staff testified that she identified Heard with each borderline persona dysfunction and histrionic persona dysfunction, which was later disputed by Heard’s personal forensic psychologist.
Depp’s safety staff testified that they by no means noticed Depp assault Heard however attested that the couple’s relationship grew to become risky and that each events spewed “verbal vitriol” at one another.
Heard’s protection referred to as a number of witnesses to testify to seeing bruises on her throughout the time she was with Depp, together with two associates who she was shut with on the time, Raquel Pennington and iO Tillet Wright. She additionally had a forensic psychologist testify disagreeing with the persona dysfunction diagnoses, telling the courtroom as an alternative that Heard had post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
In his assertion Wednesday, Depp mentioned he’s “overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection and the colossal help and kindness from all over the world.”
“I hope that my quest to have the reality be informed can have helped others, males or ladies, who’ve discovered themselves in my state of affairs, and that these supporting them by no means surrender,” he mentioned. “I additionally hope that the place will now return to harmless till confirmed responsible, each inside the courts and within the media.”