Things to Know About Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial

The high-profile trial in Fairfax, Virginia, of actors Johnny Depp, 58, and ex-wife Amber Heard, 36, began April 12. The trial is centred on a defamation lawsuit Depp brought against Heard in 2019 in response to an op-ed she penned in 2018 about domestic abuse. According to Depp, the article irrevocably harmed his career.

The six-week trial has already garnered headlines for everything from Depp’s violent text messages to audio recordings of their arguments. This is the second case involving charges of abuse involving Depp and Heard, following a trial in the United Kingdom in 2020.

As the third week of the experiment approaches, here is what we know thus far.

What is the reason for Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard?

Depp filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard in March 2019 following her December publication of an op-ed in the Washington Post. Heard described how women are treated in sexual assault cases and alluded to herself as a “public figure symbolising domestic abuse” in the piece, but did not specifically identify Depp. Depp, who claims he was cut from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise days after the piece was published, claims the publication harmed his career. Depp’s career was already in jeopardy following the couple’s public breakup and the ensuing charges of abuse.

The lengthy trial comes after Depp lost a similar action in 2020 against News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the tabloid The Sun in the United Kingdom.

What is Amber Heard’s motivation for suing Johnny Depp?

Things to Know About Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial

Heard’s lawyers attempted to have Depp’s defamation action dismissed following his loss in the U.K. case, but a court declined, citing distinctions between UK and US defamation statutes and noting that Heard was not a defendant in the case against The Sun. Heard subsequently launched a $100 million countersuit against Depp, alleging that he defamed her by referring to her allegations as “false” and a “sexual assault farce” by his legal team. Due to the fact that Heard’s op-ed was published in the Washington Post, the trial is being held in Fairfax, Va., the newspaper’s headquarters.

What did Heard write in his op-ed in the Washington Post?

Heard penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in December 2018 with the heading “I spoke out against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath.” This must be changed.”

She discussed the public backlash she had after “becoming a public figure representing domestic abuse” in 2016, then pushed for increased support for domestic violence victims in the piece.

Though Heard did not mention Depp by name, the period she detailed in the poem corresponded to the couple’s 2016 divorce.

What you need to know about the case against The Sun?

Things to Know About Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial

Several of the charges made during the trial were previously heard during a 16-day trial in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2020, when Depp sued The Sun’s publisher for libel over a headline labelling him a “wife-beater.” Heard testified throughout the trial, levelling fourteen charges of sexual assault against Depp. Depp denied all of them, but a judge said that 12 had been “established to a civil standard” and that The Sun’s title was “essentially factual.”

The timeline of Johnny Depp’s relationship with Amber Heard

Depp met Heard in 2009 on the set of The Rum Diary, in which she played Depp’s love interest. Depp revealed his first encounter with Heard during his testimony in Fairfax, when the two were filming a scene that required their characters to kiss in the shower.

“That moment was, it was, it seemed like something I should not be feeling,” Depp explained, noting that both of them were in relationships at the time. “I believe there was something genuine about the shower kiss.”

The two reconnected two years later to promote the film, but began dating only after Depp ended his long-term relationship with Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares two children. Depp and Heard tied the knot in 2015. Heard filed for divorce 15 months later, after obtaining a temporary restraining order against Depp, whom she accused of being aggressive toward her. Depp’s legal team refuted the allegations, accusing Heard of “falsely alleging abuse” in order to “obtain a premature financial resolution.” They settled out of court after Heard retracted a request for $50,000 per month in spousal support. Heard received $7 million. According to Heard, she donated the funds to charity.

When their divorce was finalised, the couple made a joint statement in which they stated, “Our relationship was passionately passionate and at times tumultuous, but always bonded by love.”

What Johnny Depp testified about?

Things to Know About Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial

Depp recalled a childhood filled with verbal and physical abuse, his early contacts with Heard, and how the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise revolutionised his life over the course of several days of testimony that began on April 19.

Heard and Depp have both accused the other of physical assault, and both have rejected the allegations. Depp stated in his evidence, “I never came close to striking Ms. Heard in any way, nor have I ever struck a woman in my life.” He claimed Heard was abusive toward him, describing one incident in which his finger was severely wounded when Heard allegedly threw a vodka bottle at him.

During a cross-examination by Heard’s defence team, Depp was questioned about text messages he sent to friends detailing his drug and alcohol use and discussing possible acts of violence against Heard—in one, he referred to her as a “rotting corpse.” Depp claimed the messages were a reflection of his dark humour. “If you’re writing, you don’t have to stay in one spot; you can travel,” he explained. “And, on occasion, suffering must be dealt with through humor—and, on occasion, by very terrible, very black humour.”

Additionally, the actor explained how he was dismissed from the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film following Heard’s op-publication. ed’s “It would take a genuine simpleton to believe that Ms. Heard’s statements had no effect on my career, regardless of whether they mentioned my name,” Depp stated.

Who else has testified or is slated to testify?

Christi Dembrowski, Depp’s older sister and personal manager, testified about the torture they endured as children. “I noticed what I perceived to be a recurring pattern from his youth,” Dembrowski explained about his interaction with Heard.

Additionally, the court heard testimony from Isaac Baruch, Depp’s childhood buddy, who testified that Depp allowed him to live rent-free in an L.A. penthouse while he concentrated on his art. He stated that, despite the fact that Depp and Heard lived close by, he never witnessed any physical altercation between the two, referring to Heard’s claims as a “malicious fabrication.”

Depp’s legal team has also contacted a doctor and nurse who treated him for substance usage, who claim to have witnessed the pair argue but not physically harm one another.

Tara Roberts, who administers Depp’s Bahamas Islands residence, testified that Amber informed Depp he was a “washed-up actor” who was “going to die a fat, lonely old man.” According to Roberts, Depp said, “You hit me with a can.” During cross examination, she stated that she witnessed Depp pass out on the beach in a 2013 episode that was so concerning that the staff arranged for Depp’s two children to leave the island.

Shannon Curry, a clinical and forensic psychologist, said that Depp’s legal team paid her last year to undertake a psychological evaluation of Heard, which resulted in diagnoses of borderline personality disorder and histrionic disorder. Curry explained that someone with borderline personality disorder may fear desertion and make “desperate attempts” to keep someone from leaving, while those with histrionic personality disorders have an intense desire to be the focus of attention.

During cross-examination, Heard’s attorney referred to testimony from other doctors who believed Heard was a victim of domestic violence and questioned why Curry had dinner and drinks with Depp’s legal team prior to being recruited.

Tyler Hadden, one of the Los Angeles Police Department officers who responded to a domestic violence call at the couple’s apartment in May 2016, said Heard showed no signs of injury at the time—six days before she appeared in a Los Angeles courthouse with marks on her face as she applied for a temporary restraining order.

“Just because I see a girl with pink cheeks and pink eyes does not mean something occurred,” he stated in a videotaped deposition aired for jurors Wednesday. Two additional officers provided identical testimony. Additionally, jurors saw bodycam footage in which Heard could be seen only from a distance.

Heard’s lawyer argued that she may have concealed her injuries with makeup in order to protect Depp, when officers were questioned about why they did not conduct a more complete investigation.

Alejandro Romero, who worked at the front desk of the building where Depp and Heard lived during their marriage, began driving during his pre-recorded evidence and appeared to be smoking a vape pen in one strange deposition.

“I am so stressed out as a result of this that I just don’t want to cope with it any longer.” I’m exhausted. “I’m not interested in dealing with this judicial case,” he stated. “Everyone has a problem.”

Heard is scheduled to testify in the coming weeks. Other names on Heard’s list of potential witnesses include Elon Musk, whom she apparently dated, and her former co-star James Franco, whom she allegedly confided. Paul Bettany, the actor, is also scheduled to testify on Depp’s side regarding a chat he had with him regarding text messages advocating violence against Heard.

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