The famous actor Johnny Depp is known for his commercially successful movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. The Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard defamation lawsuit has been receiving attention all around the globe. Amber Heard is also an actress and known for her iconic role in Aquaman.
In the 2022 case in Virginia, Depp successfully justifies his stance on Amber’s allegations. These allegations claimed that she was a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence by Depp all through their short-lived marriage. The trial was headed by a seven-member jury, who awarded Depp with more than 10 million dollars in his defamation case against his ex-wife Amer Heard. The jury also awarded Amber with almost 2 million dollars in damages for being defamed by Depp’s lawyer who called her allegations “a hoax”.
The trial gives you a glimpse of Depp-Amber’s vicious marriage. After the much success of Depp suing Amber, he hopes to restore his reputation. In this article, we do a critical analysis on the case. The analysis will be reviewing both the petitioners and respondent’s sides. Interpretation of UK and American laws and the take of the lawyer’s involved in the trial.
The trial gained the much public and media scrutiny. It was watched by millions online, who tuned into livestreams of the proceedings available on YouTube. The fans of both the public figures generated various memes and GIFs, which either applauded Depp or mocked Amber. A massive campaign in social media also up roared by these fans, majorly supporting Depp and some in support of Amber. This came in the form of hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp and #JusticeforAmberHeard.
Both the sides presented multiple witnesses, these witnesses included: “celebrity appearances, including rumored Elon Musk, Amber’s Co-star James Franco. However, this did not materialize. Depp’s ex-girlfriend Ellen Barkin and more. In addition to this, other witnesses included bodyguards, agents, business managers, psychiatrists, doctors, friends, relatives, and even the former doorman of the luxury penthouse complex where the couple once lived in Los Angeles.”
In 2018, Amber Heard wrote a piece on an Op-Ed of The Washington Post claiming to be a “public personality representing domestic abuse.” Although Amber did not actually state Depp’s name in the post. Johnny Depp sued her for the same for over 50 million dollars claiming that she defamed him in implying that he was the domestic abuser in that post. Heard countersued for 100 million dollars, alleging that she underwent “rampant physical violence and abuse.”
“How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
The Harry Potter Author too received severe backlash on supporting Johnny Depp and wanting to continue to cast him in the lead role of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
In 2018, Depp brought a libel lawsuit in the UK against News Group Newspapers (NGN), publishers of The Sun, over an April 2018 article now titled: ‘GONE POTTY How Can J K Rowling be “genuinely happy” casting Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film after assault claim?’. The case had a highly publicized trial in July 2020, with both Depp and Heard testifying for several days. In November 2020, the High Court of Justice ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of violence claimed by Heard were “substantially true”. The court rejected Depp’s claim of a hoax and accepted that the allegations Heard had made against Depp had damaged her career and activism. Following the verdict, Depp resigned from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, after being asked to do so by its production company, Warner Bros.
Depp appealed the verdict, with his lawyers accusing Heard of not following through on the charity pledge, and that the pledge had significantly influenced the judge’s view of Heard. In response, Heard’s legal team stated that she had not donated the full amount yet due to the lawsuits against her by Depp. Depp’s appeal to overturn the verdict was rejected by the Court of Appeal in March 2021. The Court of Appeal did not find the argument that the charity pledge influenced the outcome convincing, as the judge in the trial had reached their verdict by evaluating the evidence related to the 14 alleged incidents of violence; the issue of the donation was not part of it, but a comment made after the verdict had already been reached.
Cases and Laws that were cited, few of them are listed below:
- In “Re D  1 WLR 1499 at  Lord Carswell approved what had been said by Richards LJ in R (N) v Mental Health Review Tribunal (Northern Region)  QB 468 at  who had said, ‘Although there is a single civil standard of proof on the balance of probabilities, it is flexible in its application. In particular, the more serious the allegation or the more serious the consequences if the allegation is proved, the stronger must be the evidence before a court will find the allegation proved on the balance of probabilities. Thus, the flexibility of the standard lies not in any adjustment to the degree of probability required for an allegation to be proved (such that a more serious allegation has to be proved to a higher degree of probability), but in the strength or quality of the evidence that will in practice be required for an allegation to be proved on the balance of probabilities.”
- “Simon J. also quoted the same comments by Richards LJ when considering the defence of justification in the course of his judgment on a libel claim – see Hunt v Times Newspapers Ltd.  EWHC 1868 (QB). He said (at ), ‘Where the allegation is one of serious criminality (as here) clear evidence is required.”
- Since the primary goal was to establish defamation. The term “defamatory” was taken from the Defamation Act 2013, Section 1. It defines as, “A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.” In the written submissions that were submitted in the court of law it was proved that the publication did in fact possess such effects.
Image Credits: Bored Panda
Camille Vasquez is an American attorney known for representing actor Johnny Depp in the defamation case he brought against his ex-wife Amber Heard. She has taken the world by storm and is applauded for her hard work on the trial. Many articles state that she is what a role model should look like. Vasquez was born in San Francisco, California, to a Colombian father and a Cuban mother. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and political science. She went on to complete her Juris Doctor from Southwestern Law School in 2010. She will also represent Depp in an upcoming personal injury lawsuit filed by a film crew member who claims to have been physically assaulted by Depp in April 2017. Other well-known clients she has represented include Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lopez.
She received particular public attention for her representation of Depp in the Depp v. Heard trial. The trial was livestreamed, receiving widespread viewership around the world. As a result, Google Trends noted a significant surge in searches of her name, and a hashtag of her name received over 980 million impressions on the video-sharing platform TikTok. Vogue called her an “overnight celebrity” as a consequence of the trial. Following the trial, Vasquez was promoted from associate to partner at her firm, Brown Rudnick.
The epic trial also grabbed attention of these particular statements that were made in the trial by both the parties:
- The severed fingertip
During the six-week trial, it was noted that the tip of Depp’s middle finger of the right hand was severed during a heated argument with Heard. It was alleged that Amber threw a vodka bottle at Depp which caused the cut. Heard however, denies this claim ad suggests that may have been when he smashed a wall-mounted phone. Both agreed though that Depp used his bloody digit to scrawl cryptic messages on walls, lampshades, and mirrors in the home.
- Poop on the bed
In addition to many other unusual incidents mentioned in the course of the trial. Depp mentions about human faeces, he found on his side of the couple’s bed. Now, Heard blames this on their dogs and state that they had had bowel problems after consuming some of Depp’s marijuana. It was also stated that Depp tried to hurt the dogs by pretending to throw them from the windows. There is no evidence submitted for the same. The dogs remain unhurt.
- Damaged Careers
Both prominent actors claim that they their careers have been damaged due to the said allegations. Whilst Amber blames Depp, for the same, who according to her stopped Warner Brothers from taking on Heard for Aquaman 2. Depp alleges that he lost the role of the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean role due to the abuse allegations. Both of them presented an industry expert that projected in monetary terms of how much both the actors lost due to this transition. “Amber who estimated she has suffered $45-50 million in lost film and TV roles and endorsements. Depp – a $22.5 million payday.”
Heard said she had received thousands of death threats. “People want to kill me, and they tell me so every day,” she said.
Image Credit: IMDb
Amber Laura Heard is an American actress. Heard publicly came out in 2010, but has stated, “I don’t label myself one way or another – I have had successful relationships with men and now a woman. I love who I love; it’s the person that matters. “Heard was in a relationship with photographer Tasya van Ree from 2008 to 2012. Heard had her last name legally changed to van Ree during the relationship and reverted to her birth name in 2014. In 2009, Heard was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, Washington state after allegedly hitting van Ree. Heard appeared the next day in King County District Court, Seattle but was not charged. The arrest was made public in 2016 during Heard’s divorce proceedings from actor Johnny Depp. A statement was then issued by Heard’s publicist in which van Ree said that Heard had been “wrongfully” accused, that the incident had been “misinterpreted and over-sensationalized” and that she recalled “hints of misogynistic attitudes toward us which later appeared to be homophobic when they found out we were domestic partners and not just ‘friends'”. The female officer who conducted the arrest, who is openly lesbian herself, subsequently posted on Facebook to say, “I am so not homophobic or misogynistic! The arrest was made because an assault occurred (I witnessed it)”.
Amber began dating tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, whom she dated over a year after her divorce with Depp. She later had a relationship with actress and cinematographer Bianca Butti from January 2020 to December 2021. In April 2021, Heard had her first child via a surrogate mother.
This is Depp’s second libel complaint against Amber. “It’s the first time he has sued her directly. In 2018 Johnny filed a lawsuit in the United Kingdom against News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun which referred to him as a “wife beater” in an April 2018 article. That lawsuit went to trial in 2020. Both Heard and Depp testified for several days. In November 2020 a judge ruled that 12 of the 14 incidents of violence that Heard reportedly claimed to have incurred were only “substantially true.””
Let us discuss few of these incidents that were cited on the written submission:
1st Incident: Amber claims (in early 2013) when Depp first hit her, followed by when Depp started consuming alcohol and using drugs.
2nd Incident: Around March 2013, Amber claims that Depp was heavily drunk and was angry about a painting that was hung by her. Since it was gifted by someone who she use to dated. Next morning, she claims that Depp tried burning the said painting.
Amber continues to cite on occasions that Depp beat her due to which her upper lip was busted and at various other point of time where she was grabbed and shoved. Depp denies most of these claims and states that he merely asked Amber to move the painting elsewhere. He also states that Amber did have a heated reaction over the painting, which followed through the next day.
3rd Incident: In this scenario, a question was raised on Depp’s tattoo that was in accolade to one of his former girlfriends, namely Winona Ryder. The tattoo quoted ‘Winona Forever’. It was claimed by Depp that Amber was unhappy about the same due to which he was forced to change the tattoo to ‘Wino Forever.’
Depp does however recognize that he has a drinking problem and also agrees that he tends to do things when drunk which he would in normal circumstances would not do. He refers to his drunk personality as “the monster”. He, however, does deny ever hitting Amber.
Image Credits: Us Weekly
Actress Amber Heard’s lawyer Elaine Charlson Bredhoft said that the actress was unable to pay her ex-husband Johnny Depp more than $10 million in damages, after the US jury took the side of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star in a bitter defamation trial. 
A little about Elaine Charlson Bredehoft:
Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, is a native of Northern Minnesota, has been successfully trying cases in state and federal courts in Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland since 1984. She has various publications to her credits, more than twenty honors, awards and recognition is noted on her name. Then why did she receive such backlash during Depp-Amber trial? It is clear as such that various evidence that were presented by Amber were actually not good enough for whatever allegations she claimed happened.
There is no evidence that proves that Depp actually was found guilty of any form of violence in the UK, or USA or any other jurisdiction for that matter. In the course of the trial, he was however questioned on his behavior and whether he was ever violent to any people or property.
In a 2003 interview Depp was heard saying, “It was a bad day. You know you have bad days. And you know, some guys go play golf, some guys you know smash hotel rooms.”
It is disheartening to see that how nay statements in the media can be easily twisted. “He was also arrested in New York City in 1994 after causing significant damage to his room at The Mark Hotel, where he was staying with Kate Moss, his girlfriend.” Depp agrees that the damages were caused by him, however he denies that the same happened in fit of anger or that he ever put Kate in harm’s way.
As such in the case, Amber’s record for non-violence or violence was also taken into consideration. For the reason that claims of abuse on Depp was unlawful, and that it had to be proved that it was Amber who was actually the abusive one in the relationship. Naturally, Amber denies all the claims. Since, if proven, her entire credibility will affect adversely. “There was it seems an occasion in 2009 when Ms Heard was arrested on suspicion that she had assaulted her then partner Tasya van Ree. No charge followed the arrest.”
Various audio and video recordings were also submitted in the court of the couple having a heated argument. Both the parties have submitted photos of injuries they claimed were inflicted on each other by each other. As such, in one of the pieces of evidence provided by Amber, Depp is seen shouting and smashing glass cabinets. In addition to this, text messages that took place were also submitted that contained crude and violent languages.
Hurrah! On the unanimous decision taken by the jury. While the trial was essentially a libel case over an op-ed article. Depp sued Heard, then Heard countersued Depp: the beginning of a major conflict. Whilst Heard alleges Depp abused her, Depp claims that Heard assaulted him. This has to be one of the most highest celebrity profile cases, in recent years, following O.J. Simpsons case. Naturally, it seems like the case ensured both parties a win-win situation. Whilst the jury concluded in the favor of Depp. They also found that part of Amber’s counterclaim also weighed merits. As such both were awarded damages.
Abuse has no gender. Domestic violence has no gender, the case of Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard proves us that. All things aside, in my humble opinion and not to offend any individual, I see how in this case, individuals just made a mockery out of the judicial system or at least tried to. It is heartbreaking to realize that society only sees a woman as a victim. Domestic violence is a serious issue and false accusations shows utmost disrespect as well as puts actual victims in a disadvantageous position.
“Tell the world, I Johnny Depp, a man, am a victim too of domestic violence. See how many people believe or side with you.”
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