Timeline of Heard v Depp Defamation Trial

TW: This article could be potentially triggering due to mentions of abuse.

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Ezra Romley, Staff

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp divorce

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp are two actors who have had multiple famous roles in the film industry. Depp is well known for his famous role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Heard is known for her roles as Princess Mira in Aquaman and Zoe in Magic Mike XXL. They met on the set of The Rum Diary in 2009. Mr. Depp describes the pair’s on-set chemistry in his testimony during the defamation trial. They began dating in 2014 and soon were married in February 2015. This short period of romance did not last and the private details of the famous couple’s relationship were exposed publicly.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp officially filed for divorce on May 23, 2016. Heard obtained a temporary restraining order nearly four days after the divorce. She claims she got bruises from Depp who threw a phone directly at her face similar to a “baseball pitcher.” According to Depp’s court papers, Depp testified he flopped the phone on the couch and that Heard caused the bruises on her own account.

 

Three-week Libel Trial Against The Sun newspaper

In 2018, an article was published by The Sun newspaper that references Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s former marriage. The headline of this article called Depp a “wife-beater.” Because of this, Depp sued the News Group Newspapers (publisher of The Sun, Britain’s largest newspaper company) and The Sun’s editor, Dan Wooton, for libel. Libel is a written defamatory statement that ruins a person’s reputation. 

In 2020, the trial was taken to a court in London. This trial went on for about three weeks. The final verdict of the trial made by the judge, Mr. Justice Nicol, concluded that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Depp assaulted Ms. Heard. According to the judge, twelve of the fourteen domestic violence incidents had actually happened.

 

Depp v Heard Defamation Trial

On April 11th, 2022, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp officially began the defamation lawsuit. Towards the end of December 2018, Amber Heard wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post titled Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

Two years ago I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” Heard writes in the op-ed. She recollects the time in which she suffered from domestic violence. 

As the #MeToo social movement began to gain more traction in 2018, Heard delves into the movement, stating “#MeToo started a conversation about just how profoundly sexual violence affects women in every area of our lives.”

Due to these allegations, Depp severed ties with Heard. Three months after the op-ed was released (March 2019), Depp filed for a defamation lawsuit in response to the article suing Amber Heard for $50 million. In January 2021, Amber Heard countersued Johnny Depp for $100 million. The trial was denied to be held in California. The trial is currently being held at Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia since the article was published in Fairfax County.

Kristi Gillies, a real estate attorney, says “If you are sued for defamation ‘truth’ is an absolute defense. So when Johnny sued Amber, her only hope of not losing the case is proving that what she said about him was true. If she fails to convince most of the jurors that he was abusive, he wins and she will lose.”

 

Disney and Warner Brothers drops Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp played the main protagonist, Jack Sparrow, in the famous Disney franchise Pirates of the Caribbean. After the op-ed was published in 2018, Disney dropped Mr. Depp from the sixth movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, producer Jerry Bruckheimer was asked if Johnny Depp will return for any future movies. He says, “Not at this point. The future is yet to be decided.”

Along with Disney dropping Johnny Depp due to accusations of domestic violence, Warner Brothers also decided to drop Mr. Depp from the Harry Potter spinoff series Fantastic Beasts only days after Johnny lost his libel case against The Sun Newspaper.

On November 6th, 2020, Mr. Depp wrote on Instagram “I wish to let everyone know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that.”

 

Johnny Depp’s previous relationships 

Before Ms. Heard, Depp had multiple long-lasting relationships that have not ended with rumors of domestic violence or abuse. His first infamous relationship was with actress Winona Ryder. The two were soon to be engaged but eventually ended their relationship after nearly four years of being together. Winona had nothing but good things to say about Mr. Depp during the libel trial against the Sun Newspaper.

In her witness statement, Ryder says “The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen.”

Victoria Paradis, ex-wife of Johnny Depp and mother of his two children Lily-Rose Depp and Jack Depp. Paradis was with Johnny for fourteen years. In Paradis’s statement, she says her former partner is “kind, attentive and a nonviolent person and father.”

 

Final Verdict

On June 2nd, 2022, a verdict was reached by the Jury stating that both Heard and Depp defamed each other. Depp won all three counts of defamation meanwhile Heard only won one of her counterclaims. The jury awarded Johnny Depp $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages but due to legal limits, the judge only awarded Johnny $10.35 million.

Depp’s former attorney Adam Whaldman blamed Heard for “roughing” up her own penthouse to frame Johnny. The statement made by Whaldman said: “​Amber Heard and her friends in the media use fake sexual-violence allegations as both a sword and shield depending on their needs. They have selected some of her sexual-violence hoax ‘facts’ as the sword, inflicting them on the public and Mr. Depp.”

The jury found this statement defamatory, awarding Heard $2 million dollars in damages.

The two Hollywood stars had this whole trial televised to the public. This came with a surge of commotion and talk across social media. Both Depp and Heard exploited livid details of their time together for all to see. After six weeks, the jury deemed them both responsible, but Depp was ultimately handed the victory after all this long, messy trial.