Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues
Johnny Depp’s multi-million defamation lawsuit against his former wife, Amber Heard, began in Virginia on Monday morning with jury selection. Seven jurors and four alternates were picked to hear the case.
He claims a 2018 article written by Heard in The Washington Post – in which she spoke about domestic violence towards women – implied Depp, her former husband, was an abuser.
Although the 35-year-old did not name the actor, lawyers for Depp say Heard’s allegations have made it difficult for the 58-year-old to land roles he previously did.
Depp is known for starring in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeny Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heard has appeared in titles including Aquaman and Drive Angry.
He is asking for $50m (£38.2m) in damages during the trial in Fairfax County’s district courthouse. Heard has meanwhile filed a counterclaim of defamation against Depp, who she divorced from in 2017, for nuisance.
Depp has previously lost a defamation case in the UK against British newspaperThe Sun regarding the claims in Heard’s 2018 article.
Revisiting Amber Heard’s op-ed which spawned $50m defamation suit
In 2018, Amber Heard authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post titled, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
The actor, who is currently being sued by former partner and actor Johnny Depp for defamation over the op-ed, wrote about having suffered physical and sexual abuse in the article.
“I was exposed to abuse at a very young age,” the 35-year-old actor revealed, adding, “But I kept quiet – I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
Without naming Depp directly, Heard recounted the consequences of “speaking out” including being dropped by production houses and fashion brands alike, receiving death threats, and near-constant paparazzi surveillance.
Maanya Sachdeva12 April 2022 04:47
Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 04:45
As it happened: Jury selection
The Independent’s Clémence Michallon reported from the courthouse:
Jury selection is underway for the defamation trial opposing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Fairfax.
Proceedings began around 10am ET with jury selection. Depp and Heard are both present, each sitting on one side of the courthouse with their legal team.
Prospective jurors were first asked whether they’d face any hardship if they were asked to participate in a trial expected to last six weeks. Some were excused on that basis.
Then, the judge and each party’s lawyers asked prospective jurors whether they had read or heard anything about the case, and if so, whether they’d still be able to make an objective determination in this case.
Some jurors have acknowledged previous knowledge of the case, but have generally said they’d be able to keep an open mind if they’re part of the final jury.
Seven jurors and four alternates will be chosen in total.
Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 03:45
Depp and Heard: A timeline of their relationship
From meeting on the set of a 2011 film to filing for divorce in 2016, the history between Depp and Heard will likely be heard again when the trial in Fairfax, Virgina, begins.
The Independent’s Clémence Michallon has a timeline, here:
Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 02:45
Heard said she wanted to be ‘left alone’ at 2020 defamation trial in London
Appearing as a witness during Depp’s trial against British newspaper The Sun in 2020, Heard said she wanted to be “left alone” and wanted her former husband to end lawsuits over domestic abuse claims to “save him the embarrassment.”
“I didn’t want to do this, I did not want to expose this totality of what really happened to me,” Heard told London’s Royal Courts of Justice. “I didn’t want to talk about everything that happened in our marriage and happened in our relationship.”
While Depp denies the claims, Heard told the court of 14 allegations of “violence” by Depp between 2013 and 2016, in locations such as a rented house in Australia, his private island in the Bahamas and a private jet, as The Associated Press reported two years ago.
The judge ruled against Depp, who accused the publisher of The Sun of defaming him with a headline including the words “wife beater”. His lawyers afterwards called the judge’s decision “perverse”.
Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 01:45
ICYMI: Despatch from outside the court room
Writing from outside the court room in Fairfax, The Independent’s Clémence Michallon says:
“Spectators, supporters, and potential jurors have begun to gather at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia.
Today is the opening of Johnny Depp’s $50m defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard. He alleges she defamed him in an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018. Heard has countersued for $100m and asked to be granted immunity against his claims.
Potential jurors are lining up inside the courthouse, as are spectators looking to gain access to the courtroom. Proceedings are expected to begin at 10am with jury selection. Jury selection, in turn, is expected to wrap up by the end of the day.
Outside, television cameras are being set up. Supporters also showed up early. During Johnny Depp’s trial against The Sun in the UK, he was known to sometimes stop to greet fans, occasionally collecting flowers from them and stopping for photographs.”
Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 00:45
Legal dispute was focus of ‘Johnny v Amber’ TV documentary last year
The high-profile legal disagreement between Depp and Heard was depicted in a TV documentary series last year on Discovery Plus, which sought to reveal the reasons behind the pair’s two “polarised perspectives”.
The programme – Johnny v Amber – was also billed as the story “of the breakdown” of Depp and Heard’s relationship, including “how it tipped into the celebrity court case of the decade”.
Louis Chilton reports.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 23:45
Inside the first day of the trial
Fans showed up early, competing with members of the press corps for neon pink wristbands which, that day, guaranteed entry to an overflow room in which the proceedings could be followed live via video link. This setup was specific to day one, and to the jury selection; in the coming days and for the duration of the trial, members of the public will be allowed inside the courtroom, from which the case will be televised. Depp fans brought placards and flowers, in a setup reminiscent of Depp’s trial against The Sun in the UK. (The actor sued News Group Newspapers, the company that publishes the newspaper, for alleged defamation over a headline calling him a “wife beater”; he lost that case in November 2020 as a judge deemed the allegations against Depp “substantially true”.)
During the London case, Depp was known to occasionally greet fans outside of court, at times collecting gifts and flowers from them. Heard, a witness in that trial, was also seen waving to supporters and being approached by fans. The rules in the Virginia case proved different from the onset Judge Penney Azcarate, who is in charge of the proceedings, has asked Depp and Heard not to pose for photos or sign autographs outside the Fairfax County courthouse. Both made discreet entrances on Monday and were only briefly photographed at the end of the day.
Clémence Michallon11 April 2022 23:41
Why is the trial taking place in Virginia when Heard and Depp live in LA?
Although the couple both live in California, the defamation case brought by Depp against his former wife is in Virginia, where the trial will play out at Fairfax County’s district courthouse.
Online editions of The Washington Post are published through servers located in Fairfax County, which is thought to be one of the reasons behind Depp’s lawyers deciding on the location.
Another is because of Virginia’s anti-Slapp law, which is not as broad as the one in California. The provision allows a person to claim protection from a lawsuit when speaking about issues of public concern.
Lawyers for Heard, who have filed a counter defamation claim, are expected to use the anti-Slapp law during the trial. It comes four years after her Washington Post article titled: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 22:45
Heard and Depp pictured leaving courthouse after day one of trial
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 22:35
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