As I write this, a verdict has been reached in the Depp-Heard defamation trial but it hasn’t been announced yet. The trial has been going on for six weeks and has received a tremendous amount of media attention in that time. In case you missed all of that, here’s the basic backstory:
Mr. Depp, 58, sued Ms. Heard, 36, for her 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” After more than a year of legal sparring, Ms. Heard then filed a countersuit against Mr. Depp in 2020, alleging that he defamed her when a lawyer representing him released statements calling her allegations of abuse a hoax.
Mr. Depp claimed that Ms. Heard’s op-ed “devastated” his career and reputation. Ms. Heard claimed that the statements by the lawyer harmed her ability to work and caused her emotional distress and humiliation.
Jury deliberations began on Friday and continued yesterday after taking off for the long weekend. Whatever the outcome today, Depp won’t be there to hear it in person. He’s in the UK performing a series of pre-planned gigs with guitarist Jeff Beck. The duo released a song together in 2020.
Standing ovation for the incredible @jeffbeckmusic and #JohnnyDepp after their amazing performance! Johnny looked so happy and content doing what he loves! Thank you to the @RoyalAlbertHall #jeffbeck #JohnnyDepp #RoyalAlbertHall pic.twitter.com/R87SN97Txr
— Belle Cole WMA (@ColeWelding) June 1, 2022
Heard’s attorneys took the fact that Depp won’t be present for the verdict as an opportunity to attack him.
“Your presence shows where your priorities are,” according to a statement from Heard’s camp. “Johnny Depp plays guitar in the UK while Amber Heard waits for a verdict in Virginia. Depp is taking his snickering and lack of seriousness on tour.”
Depp had a tough hill to climb in this case given that he is a public figure but there’s no doubt that he’s heavily favored by fans and people watching the trial. The attention, especially online, has been intense. Two weeks ago Axios published a chart showing it was getting more attention than the war in Ukraine and the leaked SCOTUS draft decision combined.
The trial has spawned several viral moments.
The trial has turned viral on social media, thanks to courtroom cameras capturing every moment for the public view that are then quickly turned into viral memes and clips online.
Dozens of memes have gained huge traction online, like a viral meme of Amber Heard’s crying face that has plastered TikTok, Snapchat and other social outlets, and clips of Johnny Depp passing along doodles to his lawyer in court.
Yesterday there was a possible clue about what the jury was focused on. The jurors asked the judge if they should focus on the headline of Amber Heard’s opinion piece or the full article. The judge told them they could focus on just the headline.
The outcome of the trial is now being read in court and Johnny Depp has won. The jury found that Heard displayed actual malice and defamed him.
Jury finds Heard’s claim in WAPO of sexual violence was defamatory
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 1, 2022
I’ll add video of the verdict and reactions in a moment.
So far there are only livestreams which have been running for hours to you’ll have to fast forward through several hours of coverage to the end of this clip to see the verdict. I’ll update with a better clip when it becomes available.
The bottom line is that Depp won on all 3 counts against Heard and was awarded $10 million in damages plus another $5 million in punitive damages. Heard won on one of three counts against Depp and was awarded $2 million in damages but zero in punitive damages. So overall that’s a big win for Depp.
Update: Here’s a clip of the verdict which is cued up properly.
Here’s the reaction outside:
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) June 1, 2022
Depp has issued a response to the verdict. Here’s a portion of it:
“Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.
All in the blink of an eye.
False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.
Heard has also reacted with a statement:
“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 UK.
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.”
So far, no one from either side has come out to speak at the microphones set up outside the courthouse. I’ll add video if they do.
Update: Depp’s attorneys did make a brief statement. I’ll add it when it’s available. Also, I just heard that the punitive award of $5 million given to Depp is capped at $350,000 by Virginia law so that award will be reduced to that amount.
Obviously, Depp doesn’t need the money. His real goal was to convince people he was treated unfairly and maybe get his career back on track. It seems he’s done that.
Update: As promised, here’s the video of Depp’s legal team outside the courthouse.
And here’s video of Heard leaving through a back exit.