Jury’s duty in Depp-Heard trial doesn’t track public debate

FAIRFAX, Va. – A seven-person civil jury in Virginia will resume deliberations Tuesday in Johnny Depp’s libel trial towards Amber Heard. What the jury considers shall be very other from the general public debate that has engulfed the high-profile lawsuits.

For six weeks, testimony fascinated about main points of alleged abuse that Heard says she suffered by the hands of Depp. Heard has defined greater than a dozen explicit circumstances the place she says she used to be assaulted by way of Depp.

Depp has denied any bodily or sexual abuse, and says Heard concocted the claims to spoil Depp’s popularity. Depp’s legions of on-line enthusiasts have fascinated about their trust that Heard has been untruthful, and that that can decide the end result.


But the case itself is a defamation declare. Depp sued Heard for libel — for $50 million — in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”

That article by no means even mentions Depp by way of identify, however his legal professionals say he used to be defamed nevertheless. Most of the item discusses public coverage because it pertains to home violence, and Heard’s legal professionals say she has a First Amendment proper to weigh in.

In last arguments, even though, Depp legal professional Camille Vasquez argued that Heard’s free-speech rights have limits.

“The First Amendment doesn’t protect lies that hurt and defame people,” she stated.

Depp’s legal professionals level to 2 passages within the article that they are saying obviously check with Depp.


In the primary passage, Heard writes that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath.” Depp’s legal professionals name it a transparent connection with Depp, for the reason that Heard publicly accused Depp of home violence in 2016 — two years prior to she wrote the item.

In a 2nd passage, she states, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.” (Depp’s legal professionals also are looking for damages over a headline that seemed above the web model of the item, despite the fact that Heard did not write it.)

The jury, which has to come back to a unanimous resolution for a verdict, will have to come to a decision whether or not the ones passages within the Post are defamatory. And the decision shape offers them step by step directions on the right way to decide that.

Heard’s legal professionals say they have got introduced a mountain of proof that Heard used to be abused. But they are saying that even supposing the jury had been come what may to imagine that she used to be by no means abused even a unmarried time, she must nonetheless be triumphant within the lawsuit.


That’s as a result of libel regulation spells out a number of components that will have to be regarded as. First, the alleged defamatory statements must be concerning the plaintiff. Heard’s legal professionals stated the item isn’t about Depp in any respect. He’s now not discussed, and so they say the focal point is on Heard’s enjoy concerning the aftermath of talking out. Those statements stay objectively true even supposing she wasn’t actually abused, her legal professionals contend.

Depp’s legal professionals, even though, say the 2 passages are transparent references to Depp, given the exposure that surrounded their 2016 divorce lawsuits.

In addition, as a result of Depp is a public determine, Heard can most effective be discovered responsible of libel if the jury makes a decision that Heard acted with “actual malice,” which calls for transparent and convincing proof that she both knew what she used to be writing used to be false or that she acted with reckless fail to remember for the reality.

Heard legal professional J. Benjamin Rottenborn stated all the way through Friday’s last arguments that Heard moderately reviewed drafts of the item — the primary draft used to be written now not by way of her, however by way of the American Civil Liberties Union — together with her legal professionals to make certain that what used to be written handed criminal muster. Rottenborn stated that truth by myself is enough evidence that she did not act with exact malice.


As for the abuse itself, Depp’s legal professionals attempted to signify to the jury that if they suspect Heard is mendacity or embellishing any of her abuse claims, that she cannot be depended on and that each one of her abuse claims will have to be disregarded as untrustworthy.

“You either believe all of it, or none of it,” Vasquez stated. “Either she is a victim of ugly, horrible abuse, or she is a woman who is willing to say absolutely anything.”

In Heard’s last, Rottenborn stated the nitpicking over Heard’s proof of abuse ignores the reality there’s overwhelming proof on her behalf and sends a perilous message to domestic-violence sufferers.

“If you didn’t take pictures, it didn’t happen,” Rottenborn stated. “If you did take pictures, they’re fake. If you didn’t tell your friends, they’re lying. If you did tell your friends, they’re part of the hoax.”

And he rejected Vasquez’s recommendation that if the jury thinks Heard could be embellishing on a unmarried act of abuse that they’ve to fail to remember the entirety she says. He stated Depp’s libel declare will have to fail if Heard suffered even a unmarried incident of abuse.


“They’re trying to trick you into thinking Amber has to be perfect to win,” Rottenborn stated.

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