Johnny Depp Just Won His Trial Against Amber Heard & Here's How The Verdict Played Out
This article contains content that may be upsetting to some of our readers.
The jury in the Depp v. Heard defamation trial delivered its verdicts in court on Wednesday, and the results were largely a win for Johnny Depp, as well as a partial win for Amber Heard.
The jury agreed with Depp's claims that Heard published an op-ed in the Washington Post specifically to defame him, despite not naming her ex-husband in the article, and awarded him a total of $10 million in compensatory damages – less than the $50 million for which he asked. It also agreed that her statement about being a victim of domestic abuse was "false" and that she acted with "malice," forcing Heard to pay an extra $5 million in punitive damages.
In addition, the jury ruled that Heard did not fully prove her defamation case, although it did award her $2 million in compensatory damages for one of the claims. That was based on "malicious" comments made by Depp's lawyers. One of the counts was deemed to be true.
Despite the jury awarding Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages from Heard, the judge knocked that $5 million down to $350,000.
The verdict was slightly delayed from its initial 3 p.m. planned announcement as the judge sent the jury back to fill out the verdicts form properly.
Heard was in the courtroom to hear the verdicts on Wednesday, while Depp seemingly couldn't make it amid his U.K. multi-day musical tour.
Heard did not break down when the verdicts were announced in the courtroom, even though the decisions mostly favoured her ex-husband.
It brought to an end one of the most high-profile lawsuits in recent memory, as the performers and former married couple aired their apparently toxic relationship in court. The trial was live-streamed online, where millions watched snippets of it every day.
It also spawned conspiracy theories, memes, explainers and a ton of TikTok and other social media content.
The jury had been asked to rule on each actor's defamation case.
In Depp's case, he was suing Heard for $50 million over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, in which she claimed to be a "public figure representing domestic abuse." As mentioned above, she didn't name Depp but he argued that it clearly pointed to him and that he lost major roles and millions of dollars in opportunity because of the damage it did to his reputation.
Depp had to prove that Heard was deliberately lying about him in order to hurt him, and the jury found that she did.
Heard counter-sued Depp for $100 million. She claimed that his lawyer defamed her and harmed her reputation by calling the op-ed a hoax. Her lawyers also defended her by saying that she was telling the truth about Depp and that her opinion was protected as free speech under the First Amendment.
Heard had to prove that Depp's team dismissed her op-ed as a "hoax" just to damage her career and that they knew they were lying when they called it a "hoax." The jury found that she only did on one point.
Several disturbing stories emerged over the course of the trial, as the actors described how they got together and what happened before the end of their brief marriage from 2015 to 2016.
The court heard about an alleged poop left in Depp’s bed, a bitter fight in which his fingertip was apparently severed, the first time Depp allegedly hit Heard and several other claims of abuse on both sides.
Depp insisted that he had never struck Heard and that she mentally and physically abused him while they were together.
Heard accused Depp of physically and sexually abusing her on multiple occasions, often while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She acknowledged hitting him but said that she did not abuse him.
The verdicts triggered some strong feelings online, in which Depp's supporters trumpeted it as a victory and blasted Heard, much as they've done throughout the duration of the broadcasted trial. It also brought up questions about domestic abuse and the accusation of public figures.
Under Virginia law, Heard can still appeal to elements of the case within the next thirty days.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence, refer to these resources available across Canada. If you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.