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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard set to face off again in $50 million (at least) libel trial in Virginia



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The venomous divorce of film stars Johnny Depp and Amber Heard continues six years later by different means, now in a $50 million (or more) libel trial that opened Monday in Fairfax County, Virginia, exterior Washington, D.C.

Name it Depp v Heard, Half II, starring Depp, 58, and Heard, 35, reside on the witness stand, with co-starring roles for witnesses, through video, corresponding to British film star Paul Bettany (for Depp) and American movie star James Franco and mega-billionaire Elon Musk (for Heard).

On Monday afternoon, a panel of 11 – seven jurors and 4 alternates – was picked, in line with Court docket TV, which is broadcasting the trial. Opening statements within the case had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Heard shared a statement on Instagram the weekend earlier than the trial, letting followers know she can be “offline for the following a number of weeks” whereas in Virginia.

“Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote within the Washington Publish, during which I recounted my expertise of violence and home abuse,” she wrote within the put up, shared Saturday. “I by no means named him, moderately I wrote concerning the worth girls pay for talking out towards males in energy. I proceed to pay that worth, however hopefully when this case concludes, I can transfer on and so can Johnny. I’ve at all times maintained a love for Johnny and it brings me nice ache to need to reside out the main points of our previous life collectively in entrance of the world.”

Why is Johnny Depp suing Amber Heard?

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, alleging she defamed him in an opinion column she published in the Washington Post (which is printed in Fairfax County) in December 2018. Within the column, she claimed to be a sufferer of home abuse, a declare she first raised throughout their corrosive divorce proceeding in 2016 in Los Angeles.

Heard by no means proved she was abused as a result of their divorce was settled out of court docket within the midst of a media uproar. And the settlement statement they jointly issued stated partly: “Neither occasion has made false accusations for monetary achieve. There was by no means any intent of bodily or emotional hurt. Amber needs the very best for Johnny sooner or later.”

Johnny Depp appears at the High Court in London, on July 17, 2020, left, and Amber Heard appears outside the High Court on July 28, 2020.

Johnny Depp seems on the Excessive Court docket in London, on July 17, 2020, left, and Amber Heard seems exterior the Excessive Court docket on July 28, 2020.

(The settlement referred to as for Depp to pay her $7 million, which she promised to donate to charity. That, too, is a supply of rivalry between them about whether or not she did.)

Greater than two years glided by earlier than Heard printed her column, catching the wave of the 2017 MeToo motion. The column left the sturdy impression, without mentioning Depp’s name, that she was an abuse sufferer as a result of she was overwhelmed throughout her risky 15-month marriage to Depp.

Depp and his former lawyer angrily denounced Heard’s claims, then filed swimsuit in March 2019. “Ms. Heard isn’t a sufferer of home abuse, she is a perpetrator,” Depp’s swimsuit declared.

Heard countersued Depp for $100 million, alleging she was defamed by public statements by Depp’s former lawyer during which the phrases “fake” and “hoax” were tossed around.

Johnny Depp departs and waves to fans in the streets near the Fairfax County Courthouse after the first day of a multi-million libel trial between Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard, April 11, 2022.

Johnny Depp departs and waves to followers within the streets close to the Fairfax County Courthouse after the primary day of a multi-million libel trial between Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard, April 11, 2022.

Each lawsuits would be the topic of this trial earlier than Chief Judge Penney Azcarateof the Fairfax County Circuit Court docket. A former Marine, the choose has put aside as much as six weeks for the trial – except it’s settled on the final minute on the courthouse steps, and even through the trial, which is isn’t unusual in Virginia.

The choose additionally allowed a video digital camera within the courtroom, believed to be the primary time in Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest and most populated county. The trial is being televised through Court docket TV and Court TV’s online website, starting on Tuesday.

The general public will likely be allowed within the courtroom however seating will likely be restricted. Reporters can cowl the trial in particular person however with pen and paper solely – no units.

And in case film followers had been considering of staking out the courthouse, do not: There will be no overnight “camping” allowed on courthouse grounds and “additional measures” will likely be taken if foot or automobile site visitors all through the judicial complicated will get out of hand on account of the trial, the choose’s order says.

Shortly earlier than jury choice started Monday, a small crowd of Depp followers gathered exterior the courthouse, some carrying indicators saying “Justice for Johnny” and “Want He By no means Heard” with an image of Heard.

Supporters of Johnny Depp gathered outside the courthouse in Fairfax, Va. on April 11, 2022, for the start of the multi-million libel case between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Supporters of Johnny Depp gathered exterior the courthouse in Fairfax, Va. on April 11, 2022, for the beginning of the multi-million libel case between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Depp and Heard arrived individually earlier than 10 a.m.; he was in a three-piece gray swimsuit, she was in a black jacket, in line with pictures posted on Twitter by Court TV.

Did Johnny Depp already sue for libel?

If all of this sounds vaguely acquainted, that is as a result of it’s, kind of, due to Depp vs Heard, Half I. That libel case occurred in a London courtroom in the summertime of 2020, after Depp sued the publisher of The Sun tabloid for defaming him (by labeling him a “spouse beater” with out including “accused”). Heard was the tabloid’s star witness.

Depp lost. Following a three-week trial risible and appalling in equal measure, the British choose dominated The Solar had not libeled Depp as a result of “the great majority” of Heard’s claims that Depp repeatedly assaulted her earlier than and through their marriage could possibly be “proved to the civil customary.” Depp subsequently lost attempts to appeal the choice.

Since then, his massively successful movie career, particularly because the star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, has taken a hit: Amongst different issues, after the London trial he was requested to resign his starring role in “Fantastic Beasts” attributable to “latest occasions,” and he later bemoaned being “boycotted” by Hollywood in an interview with London’s Sunday Occasions (a part of the identical Rupert Murdoch-owned publishing group as The Solar).

Amber Heard walks the runway during Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 3, 2021 in Paris.

Amber Heard walks the runway throughout Paris Vogue Week on Oct. 3, 2021 in Paris.

Heard’s profession has not been as affected – she’s in a second “Aquaman” film scheduled for launch subsequent 12 months – however her profession was by no means as huge as Depp’s.

However the U.Okay trial left each Depp and Heard bruised within the public relations sense given the tabloid-style testimony about their violent, shrieking rows, countless consumption of medication and drink, wild punches and flying projectiles, trashed rooms and a lopped off fingertip.

English regulation on libel, defamation and press freedom will not be an actual match to Virginia regulation, and the English case concerned a person suing a writer, not offended ex-spouses suing one another.

(Due to U.S. Supreme Court docket precedent, it is a lot tougher for celebrities to sue the press within the U.S. than in Britain: Depp didn’t sue The Washington Publish nor did Heard sue any publication that reported on the statements she objects to.)

When Heard tried to get Depp’s lawsuit dismissed in Virginia (she tried thrice), one of many causes she cited was that he had misplaced the British case and thus had no Virginia case.

She lost. Choose Azcarate stated her argument for dismissal failed underneath well-established authorized precedents governing when civil circumstances may be dismissed. “If something, upholding English libel judgments in america would create the chilling impact and will create a harmful precedent,” she dominated.

However Azcarate ruled in Heard’s favor last month when she agreed Heard can argue to a jury that she needs to be protected against Depp’s lawsuit as a result of her column on home violence handled a matter of public curiosity and thus could possibly be shielded underneath Virginia regulation. That does not imply Heard has immunity for what she wrote, solely that she will make that public curiosity argument as a part of her protection.

Each side’ witness lists include names of people that got here up on the London trial. Actor Bettany, a pal of Depp’s, is anticipated to testify about textual content messages he exchanged with Depp about Heard. Franco, a pal, and Musk, a former boyfriend of Heard’s, could also be requested about their relationships together with her.

However the focus of the trial in suburban Washington is anticipated to rehash what Depp and Heard allegedly stated and did to one another simply earlier than their divorce continuing exploded in headlines in 2016, reverberating by Hollywood, the media and later a overseas courtroom.

It began on the night of May 21, 2016, when Heard claimed Depp attacked her and beat her face with a cellphone of their luxurious loft in downtown Los Angeles. She filed for divorce two days later, confirmed up for court docket with a visual bruise on her proper cheek, and used the declare she was overwhelmed to get a restraining order towards Depp, who was overseas on the time.

Heard’s authorized and PR groups instructed reporters that Los Angeles cops who responded to the loft would again her up, but they didn’t. The officers didn’t see any accidents, their bodycams confirmed the loft was not in disarray, Heard didn’t wish to file a police report, and so they concluded it wasn’t warranted as a result of no crime occurred.

Home abuse is against the law in each the U.S. and in Britain, and Depp has not been convicted of that crime in both nation. As an alternative, he misplaced a civil swimsuit during which a writer needed to show to a choose that the preponderance of the proof offered on the trial allowed the tabloid to name him a “spouse beater” and never be punished by paying Depp damages .

Within the Virginia case, the events need to show to a jury that what both has stated or written concerning the different quantities to defamation in Virginia by the preponderance of the proof offered on the trial.

However it’s a civil continuing. Regardless of the end result, nobody will likely be convicted of against the law.

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard trial: Everything to know about libel case