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Actor Johnny Depp has won his libel case against his ex-wife Amber Heard, as the jury announced their verdict in the widely watched case on Wednesday. The jury found that Depp was entitled to $10 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages of $5 million.
Depp sued Heard, his ex-wife, for $50 million, claiming she defamed him by accusing him of domestic violence.
With both actors accusing the other of ruining their lives, the result has come to be seen as a referendum on who the jury found more believable and believable: Depp or Heard.
Heard, 36, also filed a countersuit against Depp, 58, seeking $100 million in damages and claiming her legal team falsely accused her of fabricating claims against Depp. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in damages in that countersuit.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words,” Heard said in a statement after the verdict was read. “I am heartbroken that the mountain of evidence was still not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence and sway of my ex-husband.”
Heard called the verdict a setback for women. “It takes the clock back to a time when a woman who spoke out and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It pushes back the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously.”
Jurors began deliberating on Friday before taking a break over the bank holiday weekend. They returned to the courthouse on Tuesday. The reading of the verdict was momentarily delayed after the judge found that the jurors had not finished filling out the forms. After reviewing the jury forms, Judge Penney Azcarate ordered the seven members back to decide on a set amount of damages.
Depp was not present in the courtroom, but Heard was. Both testified and were central presences during the six-week trial.
Jury clarified which statement prompted Depp’s trial
Shortly after Tuesday’s lunch break, the jury sent Azcarate a question seeking clarification: Does Depp’s claim that Heard made a defamatory statement apply to Heard’s newspaper article? in its entirety or only in its title?
“The statement is the headline, not the entire editorial,” Azcarate wrote in response after speaking with attorneys for both sides.
The headline in question is taken from Heard’s 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post“I spoke out against sexual violence – and faced the wrath of our culture. This needs to change.”
When the judge sent the jurors out to deliberate, they were given a judgment form which lists a series of questions, including whether Depp’s team has proven Heard’s statement to be false. The form also asks if the jurors agree that Heard intended to defame Depp – another key element of defamation.
The couple’s relationship took on elements of a public spectacle
The trial in Fairfax County, Va., publicly aired details of the disintegration of the couple’s marriage, from Depp’s bouts of drug use to charges and counter-charges of physical abuse.
“I have a hard time finding the words to describe how painful it is,” Heard said when asked by her lawyer how she felt about the case. “It’s horrible for me to sit here for weeks and go through it all again.”
Depp said Heard’s claims ruined his career and boosted his work in the lucrative Disney business. Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Asked during the trial what he had lost because of the allegations, Depp replied: “nothing less than everything”.
Jurors faced a wealth of evidence during the trial, including video and audio recordings of the arguments and the actors’ turbulent lives together, as well as text messages and emails.
The case was sparked by a 2018 editorial
Depp sued Heard over a 2018 op-ed published by The Washington Post in which Heard called for a change in how the United States treats victims of abuse and urged support for the Violence Against Women Act.
The essay did not directly refer to Depp by name. But her 2019 court complaint states that “the editorial was clearly about … the alleged victimization of Ms Heard after she publicly accused her former husband, Johnny Depp, of domestic violence in 2016, when she appeared in court with a apparently bruised face. and obtained a temporary injunction against Mr. Depp.”
Heard and Depp were married in February 2015, and Heard filed for divorce in May 2016. Less than a week later, she filed a restraining order against Depp, claiming he threw an iPhone at her head, the striking, during an argument in Los Angeles. . Depp denied this, saying Heard was looking to take advantage of their divorce. At the time, police said they found no evidence of a crime and that Heard did not press for an official report.
When the pair settled their divorce in 2017, the agreement reportedly included a stipulation in which they agreed not to discuss their relationship in public.
Depp sued Heard on three counts of defamation, seeking at least $50 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages of at least $350,000, as well as attorneys’ fees and court costs.