Depp-Heard trial: jury deliberations to resume on Tuesday

The actor denied hitting his ex-wife and said she was the one who turned violent in their relationship



By Reuters

Published: Sat, May 28, 2022, 1:20 PM

Jurors deliberating on the dueling libel allegations of actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard adjourned on Friday without delivering a verdict, leaving the resolution of the widely watched six-week trial to next week.

Depp, the 58-year-old ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star, sued his ex-wife Heard in Virginia for $50 million and claimed she defamed him when she called herself ” public figure representing domestic violence” in an opinion piece she wrote.

Heard, 36, countersued for $100 million, claiming Depp smeared him when his lawyer called his accusations a “hoax”.

The seven-person jury deliberated for more than two hours on Friday. They will resume talks on Tuesday after the US Memorial Day holiday.

Depp denied hitting Heard or a woman and said it was she who became violent in their relationship.

“Mr. Depp suffered persistent verbal, physical and emotional abuse from Ms. Heard,” attorney Camille Vasquez said in closing arguments on Friday.

She said Depp’s allegations of abuse of Heard, including a sexual assault with a liquor bottle, were “savage, exaggerated and implausible” and had ruined his reputation in Hollywood and among fans.

“We ask that you bring Mr. Depp back to life by telling the world that Mr. Depp is not the abuser that Ms. Heard says he is,” Vasquez said.

Heard’s attorney, Benjamin Rottenborn, in his closing argument reminded jurors of Depp’s explicit text messages to friends or associates.

“It’s a window into the heart and mind of America’s favorite pirate,” Rottenborn said. “He’s the real Johnny Depp.”

At the center of the court case is Heard’s December 2018 opinion piece in the Washington Post, in which she made the statement on domestic violence. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his attorney told jurors it was clear Heard was referring to him.

Heard’s lawyers argued that she had told the truth and that her comments were covered by freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

“Your key question to answer is ‘does the First Amendment give Ms. Heard the right to write the words she wrote? Rottenborn told the jury. “You can’t simultaneously defend the First Amendment and rule in favor of Johnny Depp.”

Depp and Heard met in 2011 while filming “The Rum Diary” and married in February 2015. Their divorce was finalized about two years later.

During six weeks of proceedings, jurors listened to recordings of the former couple’s fights and saw graphic photos of Depp’s bloody finger.

Depp said Heard threw a bottle of vodka that cut off the top of his finger during an argument in 2015. Heard denied hurting Depp’s finger and said Depp sexually assaulted her that night with a bottle of liquor.

The testimony was widely streamed live on social media, drawing large audiences to hear details about the couple’s troubled relationship.

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Once among Hollywood’s biggest stars, Depp said Heard’s allegations cost him “everything”. A new “Pirates” movie has been put on hold, and Depp has been replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” movie franchise, a “Harry Potter” spin-off.

Depp lost a libel case less than two years ago against the Sun, a British tabloid that called him a “wife beater”. A High Court judge in London ruled that he repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in the United States in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not accused.

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