Johnny Depp's win in court could embolden others, lawyers say

Men accused of misconduct have increasingly turned to defamation suits to try to clear their names, as have victims accused of making false allegations. But between the high costs of lawyers’ fees and the fears of revealing embarrassing details in open court, many such cases are settled before they ever reach trial…

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In the wake of the Depp verdict, several lawyers and legal experts said, people accused of assault and misconduct may now be more inclined to try to bring defamation cases to trial. And some advocacy organizations and lawyers worry that the case could have a chilling effect on the victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, adding to their fears that they could be punished for speaking out.

“I do think that well-resourced individuals who feel slighted by speech that embarrassed or criticized them in some way may feel emboldened by this verdict,” said Nicole Ligon, a First Amendment law professor who provides pro bono legal advice for people considering going public with sexual misconduct accusations. “I imagine part of the reason they’ll feel emboldened is beyond the verdict itself but the public reaction to it.”

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