Depp-Heard defamation trial: A round-up of important details

Depp-Heard Trial
Posted at 3:44 PM, May 31, 2022

After a six-week trial, a civil jury in Virginia was still discussing the defamation claims by Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard on Tuesday. A verdict was still pending in the case as the jury finished their day on Tuesday.

The trial has featured lurid testimony with explicit details about the movie stars' short and volatile marriage. But the question the jury needs to answer is whether Heard defamed Depp in an op-ed in which she wrote that she was "a public figure representing domestic abuse."

The jury was also tasked with deciding a counterclaim filed by Heard. She said she was defamed when Depp's former lawyer called her abuse allegations a "hoax."

Actor Johnny Depp waves to supporters as he departs the Fairfax County Courthouse Friday, May 27, 2022 in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Craig Hudson)

Throughout the trial, various spectacles have played out, outside of the courtroom. Fans have stood outside to catch a glimpse of the stars and wave. On Tuesday, Court TV captured images of a large Pirates of the Caribbean replica ship traveling by.

The lawsuit filed by Depp asks for $50 million in damages related to defamation claims against Heard and that 2018 op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post. Heard said she was a "public figure representing domestic abuse,” but didn't mention Depp by name in the article.

Amid the weeks of trial proceedings, Heard laid out over a dozen alleged examples where she says she experienced abuse, including at least one incident of alleged sexual abuse she claims Depp committed against her. Depp also claimed that Heard physically attacked him in the past.

The seven-member jury was tasked with deciding if two passages from the Washington Post piece, plus the headline, defamed Depp. A verdict form given to the jury will guide them on how to determine that. The jury will have to decide if Heard acted with "actual malice," since she is a public figure. Heard's lawyers told the seven jury members that if she suffered even a single incident of abuse, they must find that Depp's libel claim then fails.

Heard has filed a $100 million counterclaim against Depp after Depp's former lawyer called the allegations she has made a "hoax." The jury will have to decide if Depp's former lawyer's three published statements were about Heard, were false, and if they were seen by people other than Heard. They must also decide if Depp's former attorney also made those statements with "actual malice," as the Associated Press reported.