Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Defamation Trial Reaches Verdict
After a few days of deliberation, which officially began Friday (May 27) and resumed Tuesday (May 31) following the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, the seven-person jury presented their verdict Wednesday (June 1).
The jury found both parties guilty of defamation to varying degrees.
The jury found that Heard defamed Depp with the 2018 Washington Post op-ed she wrote about being "a public figure representing domestic abuse."
The jury awarded Depp compensatory damages against Heard in the amount of $10 million, as well as punitive damages in the amount of $5 million. The judge capped Depp's total award to $10.4 million, according to the state's statutory cap.
The jury also found Depp defamed Heard through his attorney, Adam Waldman, in one of three counts from her countersuit. Heard was awarded compensatory damages in the amount of $2 million.
Prior to the verdict presentation, the presiding judge reminded the courtroom, “This is a court of law. Regardless of the verdict, I will not tolerate any outbursts whatsoever.”
The verdict was initially supposed to be presented at 3PM ET. However, the verdict was delayed after the jury failed to fill out the compensatory damages award form. The verdict was eventually read around 3:20PM ET.
Heard was present in court when the verdict was read. However, Depp was noticeably absent as he is currently in the U.K due to prior commitments, according to the Law & Crime Network. This week and past weekend Depp performed at a string of concerts in the U.K.
Following the verdict, Heard released a public statement. Per the BBC:
"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.
I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.
I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the U.K.
I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American – to speak freely and openly."
The complicated, high-profile trial unfolded over the course of six weeks. It was broadcast publicly as well as made available to stream live online.
The Pirates of the Caribbean and Aquaman stars were suing each other for defamation. The trial kicked off April 11 at the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia with Judge Penney S. Azcarate presiding.
In 2019, Depp launched a $50 million defamation suit following the publication of Heard's 2018 Washington Post opinion piece. In the op-ed, Heard claimed she was a victim of domestic violence and sexual violence. Though she did not name her alleged perpetrator, to readers, it was clearly about Depp.
In November 2020, Depp revealed he was asked to resign from his role in Warner Bros.' Fantastic Beasts film franchise, a spin-off series from Harry Potter.
In 2020, Heard counter-sued Depp for $100 million, alleging Depp and his team's accusations that she fabricated a story about domestic abuse hurt her career.
In court, Heard testified her role in the Aquaman sequel had been greatly reduced in the wake of Depp's accusations. A Change.org petition to remove her entirely from the franchise is nearing 4.5 million signatures.
Depp and Heard first met while filming The Rum Diary in 2009. The film was released in 2011. At the time, Depp was in a longtime 14-year relationship with French star Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares two children: Lily-Rose, 23, and Jack, 20.
Depp and Heard began dating shortly following or soon before he and Paradis split in 2012. They became engaged in 2014 and wed the following year in a private island ceremony in February 2015.
Heard filed for divorce in May 2016, citing irreconcilable differences. She received a restraining order against Depp shortly after, alleging he had been abusive toward her throughout their marriage.
In a joint statement regarding their divorce, the former couple stated: "Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile but always bound by love."
This story is developing...