Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Johnny Depp to testify in defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard | Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is expected to testify in a Virginia courtroom on Tuesday in the US defamation trial in which he accuses his ex-wife, Amber Heard, of ruining his career with false accusations of violence during their relationship.

Depp, 58, alleges Heard, 35, defamed him when she penned a December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse. He filed a $50m lawsuit against Heard in 2018.

The article never mentioned Depp by name, but Depp’s lawyer Benjamin Chew told jurors a week ago that it was clear Heard was referencing the Hollywood leading man.

Attorneys for Heard have argued she told the truth and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the US constitution’s first amendment.

Witnesses called by Depp’s lawyers have included friends and a doctor and a nurse who said they treated him for substance abuse. The witnesses tested that they were aware of arguments between the couple but had not witnessed physical abuse by Depp toward Heard.

Amber Heard in the courtroom on Monday. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP

“Their arguments were a trigger for him emotionally,” Debbie Lloyd, who worked as a nurse for Depp when he was engaged to Heard, said in a videotaped March 8 deposition that was played for the jury on Monday. “They would cause him to be upset, add stress.”

When asked by a lawyer for Depp if she was aware that any of the arguments between Depp and Heard became physical, Lloyd replied: “No.”

A state court judge in Fairfax county, Virginia is overseeing the trial, which is in its second week and is expected to last for six weeks.

Less than two years ago, Depp lost a UK libel case against the Sun, which had labeled him a “wife beater”. A high court judge in London ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard and put her in fear for her life.

In the US case, Depp and Heard both submitted long lists of potential witnesses they could put on the stand.

Heard’s list includes her ex-boyfriend Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, with whom she texted about Depp. Also on the list of potential witnesses is the actor James Franco.

The Washington Post is not a defender in the case. Depp’s lawyers have said they filed the case in Fairfax county, outside the District of Columbia, because the newspaper is printed there.

The US is a difficult forum for libel claimants, especially public figures such as Depp, who must prove by clear and convincing evidence that Heard knowingly made false claims.

Heard has brought her own libel claim against Depp, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar. She is seeking $100m in damages, according to court papers. The counterclaim will be decided as part of the trial.

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