Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues
Johnny Depp’s multi-million defamation lawsuit against his former wife, Amber Heard, began in Virginia on Monday morning with jury selection. Seven jurors and four alternates were picked to hear the case.
He claims a 2018 article written by Heard in The Washington Post – in which she spoke about domestic violence towards women – implied Depp, her former husband, was an abuser.
Although the 35-year-old did not name the actor, lawyers for Depp say Heard’s allegations have made it difficult for the 58-year-old to land roles he previously did.
Depp is known for starring in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeny Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heard has appeared in titles including Aquaman and Drive Angry.
He is asking for $50m (£38.2m) in damages during the trial in Fairfax County’s district courthouse. Heard has meanwhile filed a counterclaim of defamation against Depp, who she divorced from in 2017, for nuisance.
Depp has previously lost a defamation case in the UK against British newspaper The Sun regarding the claims in Heard’s 2018 article.
Who might testify during the trial?
Ahead of the trial due to begin today in Virginia, Depp and Heard have each published a list of witnesses their teams may wish to call upon, writes The Independent’s Clémence Michallon.
They have each filed lists of objections to some of the other side’s witnesses, so the final pool of witnesses will become clearer and may evolve as the proceedings go on.
Some of the people named as potential witnesses so far include Tesla-founder Elon Musk and actor James Franco…
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 21:09
The jury has been selected
A jury of eleven people, including four alternates, has been selected to hear Johnny Depp’s defamation case against his ex-wife Amber HEard.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 21:05
Not the first time Heard and Depp have been in court
This is not the first time Depp and Heard have appeared in court after he failed to sue the publishers of The Sun newspaper for defamation in 2020.
A judge ruled that the headline of an article written by The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton in 2018 was “substantially true”. It described the actor as a “wife beater”, which he denies.
Depp, whose lawyers called the judge’s ruling “perverse”, was not allowed to appeal the decision either.
He also denied the claims made in the article and by Heard, who spoke in court as a witness during the case in London’s Royal Courts of Justice.
While Depp says he was forced to stand down from his role in the film Fantastic Beasts – a Harry Potter spin-off – following the trial, he has attended a number of film events and was awarded by the San Sebastian film festival in Spain for his lifetime achievements. The decision proved highly controversial.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 20:50
Why is the trial taking place in Virginia?
Although the couple both live in California, the defamation case brought by Depp against his former wife is in Virginia, where the trial will play out at Fairfax County’s district courthouse.
Online editions of The Washington Post are published through servers located in Fairfax County, which is thought to be one of the reasons behind Depp’s lawyers deciding on the location.
Another is because of Virginia’s anti-Slapp law, which is not as broad as the one in California. The provision allows a person to claim protection from a lawsuit when speaking about issues of public concern.
Lawyers for Heard, who have filed a counter defamation claim, are expected to use the anti-Slapp law during the trial. It comes four years after her Washington Post article titled: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 20:31
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 20:12
Legal dispute was focus of TV documentary last year
The high-profile legal disagreement between Depp and Heard was depicted in a TV documentary series last year on Discovery Plus, which sought to reveal the reasons behind the pair’s two “polarised perspectives”.
The programme – Johnny v Amber – was also billed as the story “of the breakdown” of Depp and Heard’s relationship, including “how it tipped into the celebrity court case of the decade”.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 19:53
Press gather at courthouse as Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard begins
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 19:34
Heard can use anti-Slapp provision, judge ruled last month
Heard will be able to argue during the trial that she is immune from liability because her Washington Post article in 2018 about domestic violence was an important issue in the public interest.
Lawyers for Depp had argued for the court to refuse to allow Heard to use the law, known as an anti-Slapp (strategic lawsuit against public participation) provision, because it was a civil case.
Both will testify during the trial, which will see the Fairfax County district court assess Heard’s counter defamation claim against Depp.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 19:15
Reminder: Heard asked court for restraining order in 2016
When Heard and Depp filed for divorce in 2016, the actress asked a judge for a restraining order against her then estranged-husband, who she said had been “violent” towards her.
Depp – who denies the claims – was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Heard, who told the court in Los Angeles, California, that he had throne a cellphone at her during a fight, and that she was grabbed and hit,as well as screamed at.
“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” Heard wrote in a filing in 2016. “I live in fear that Johnny will return to (our house) unannounced to terrorise me, physically and emotionally.”
Depp lawyers said in a court filing at the time that Heard was “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse”, and the actor rebuked the claims.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 18:45
Heard: ‘I’ll be away for a few weeks’
Here’s the statement issued by Amber Heard on Saturday on her Twitter and Instagram accounts, in which she tells fans she will be “offline for the next few weeks”.
She also thanked her fans for their support, and said “in these coming weeks I will be leaning on it more than ever”.
Heard also addressed Depp’s claim that she had defamed him in an article in 2018 in The Washington Post, and said she continued “to pay the price” for speaking out on the issue of domestic violence.
Depp denies any wrongdoing.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 18:15
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