Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have been facing each other in court for five weeks with drawn knives, and that includes strong lawyers, bizarre psychiatrists and striking confessions.
For those who can no longer see the wood for the trees, we looked for an answer to the most frequently asked questions. From the heart of the matter to the missing phalanx, the ultimate questions about the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial were answered.
What is it about?
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met on the set of the movie ‘The Rum Diary’ in 2011. In February 2015, they tied the knot in Los Angeles. However, their relationship did not last long. In May 2016, Heard requested (and obtained) temporary restraining order for her ex, because he was allegedly guilty of domestic violence. Their divorce was finalized in 2017.
In 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed in “The Washington Post,” in which she again stated that she was a victim of domestic violence. She did not mention Depp by name, but the latter believes that the opinion piece damages his image, and so he demands 50 million dollars. His ex filed a counter-claim for $100 million in damages.
What happened in the lawsuit against ‘The Sun’?
It’s not the first time Depp and Heard have faced each other in court. In 2020, the lawsuit that the actor had filed against ‘The Sun’ began. The British tabloid had called him a “wifebeater”. During the trial – which took place behind closed doors – Amber Heard also testified for ‘The Sun’. Depp then fished behind the net: according to the judge, there was no question of defamation because the violence had been sufficiently proven.
Why is the trial in Fairfax, Virginia?
The entire lawsuit revolves around a column Amber Heard wrote for “The Washington Post.” It is printed in Fairfax, Virginia. Moreover, the newspaper’s servers – for the website – are also in the same state. Depp also had another reason to choose Virginia over California, where he and Amber Heard live. California has strict anti-SLAPP laws. These are intended to prevent people from filing lawsuits – especially libel cases – to intimidate their opponents. So in California, someone charged with defamation can file a motion to drop that charge because it’s about free speech.
When will there be a verdict?
Unfortunately, that is difficult to estimate because we work with a jury. What we do know is that the closing arguments will be given on May 27. Immediately afterwards, the seven jury members start the debates. The timing of the ruling depends on how quickly they agree.
Who are the lawyers and judges involved?
As expected, both Depp and Heard can count on an extensive team of lawyers. Johnny Depp chose the law firm Brown Rudnick. His team includes Ben Chew, Andrew Crawford, Stephanie Calnan, Rebecca MacDowell Lecaroz, Jessica Meyers, and Camille Vasquez. Heard chosen the company Wood Rogers and can count on the expertise of Ben Rottenborn and Elaine Bredehoft.
The serving judge is Penney Azcarate, a former Marine who has served as Chief Justice in Virginia since 2015. A woman with a lot of experience but, according to insiders, a somewhat old-fashioned purist. You can deduce that from the fact that she allows many objections from both lawyers. “If you quote someone who is not in the lawsuit, that is already ‘hearsay’ – hearsay,” said analyst Gene Rossi.
“For example, if I testified, and I quoted myself from saying something to someone outside the courtroom, that’s technically ‘hearsay’. In 99% of the cases, the judges allow it. But this judge is a purist. She allows those objections because academically and technically, they are indeed ‘hearsay’. But in practice, many judges allow it.”
Why does Johnny Depp seem to have the upper hand for now?
The trial is not over yet, the verdict has not yet been passed. And yet, for many people, it already seems a foregone conclusion: Amber Heard is the culprit, and Johnny Depp, the victim. From professor Hilde Bulck, who specializes in ‘Celebrity Studies’ in the United States, why this is so. Depp’s significantly larger fan base certainly plays a role, she says, as does the fact that the actor comes across as very authentic during his testimony.
“He doesn’t hide that he uses drugs and is visibly not ashamed of it. He seems to show that he has nothing to hide, and that really appeals to people. Of course, we don’t know if that’s true,” she said. Heard then comes across as less authentic: “She clearly wants to project a serene image. She tries not to show emotion, which seems almost impossible since so many terrible things are said.”
What does Depp’s phalanx have to do with the whole thing?
One of the focal points of the lawsuit is the incident in Australia, where Johnny Depp lost his phalanx. Both sides see that moment as a high (or rather: low) of the violence of the other. Depp has already testified that he lost his phalanx after a heated argument with Heard over a prenup. She threw a bottle at his finger, which shattered on impact, with far-reaching consequences. Amber Heard claimed that they were indeed arguing, but about Depp’s drinking and drug use, who was also sickly jealous. After an argument in which he raped her with a bottle, he is said to have cut off his own fingertip in his anger. We may never know for sure who is right.
What happens to the loser?
To win, Johnny Depp must prove not only that he was falsely accused of domestic violence but also that the essay Heard wrote did cause him harm. If he proves right, Amber Heard will have to pay him damages – which will probably be quite high, given that he is demanding $50 million from her. She has filed a counter-claim for $100 million. This is also included in the decision-making process.
If it is decided that Johnny Depp is indeed liable for her claim, he will also have to pay damages. Incidentally, it is also possible that the jury is not convinced by both parties and that they decide that neither of them should receive compensation.
The jury decides on the damages and yes, If the jury decides Amber Heard is not guilty, she will be able to recover (some of) her legal costs. Depp will then have to pay for that. The amount she will receive will be determined by a judge. In any case, the two do not have to fear a prison sentence. This is a civil claim, not a criminal case. So a prison sentence is out of the question.