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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial: Why are they in court?



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Former “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp and “Aquaman” actor Amber Heard are again in courtroom to resolve whether or not Heard libeled her ex-husband in 2018 by writing an op-ed that he believes falsely portrayed him as a home abuser.

And Heard has filed a countersuit in opposition to Depp that accuses his attorneys of defaming her.

The brand new trial, which is anticipated to final greater than a month, is the newest authorized battle between the well-known exes, who each made appearances in courtroom this week.

Jury choice within the case started in Fairfax County Circuit Courtroom in Virginia on Monday. A civil jury of seven members and 4 alternates was chosen to listen to the case throughout a trial presided over by Decide Penney S. Azcarate, based on the Related Press. Opening statements have been made Tuesday.

Right here’s what it’s worthwhile to know to compensate for the case.

Who’re the important thing gamers?

Depp, 58, and Heard, 35, started relationship in 2012 after assembly throughout the filming of 2011’s “The Rum Diary,” based mostly on the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the identical title. That very same 12 months, Depp separated from Vanessa Paradis, his girlfriend of 14 years, with whom the Academy Award nominee has two youngsters.

A woman in a red gown stands next to a man in a suit at a film premiere

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp attend the world premiere of “The Rum Diary” in L.A. in 2011.

(Eric Charbonneau / Invision / Related Press)

The worldwide celebrity married Heard in February 2015, however the marriage lasted lower than two years.

She filed for divorce in May 2016 citing irreconcilable variations. That’s additionally in regards to the time she first publicly accused Depp of home violence — allegations that Depp denied. She additionally introduced a photograph of herself with a bruised face to courtroom, which bought a decide to order that Depp steer clear of her.

“Our relationship was intensely passionate and at occasions unstable, however all the time certain by love,” the actors mentioned in a joint assertion launched after Heard dismissed her restraining-order petition. “Neither occasion has made false accusations for monetary acquire. There was by no means any intent of bodily or emotional hurt.”

They introduced a divorce settlement in August 2016 and by January 2017, a decide finalized the acrimonious split. Nonetheless, they continued to publicly bicker about their tumultuous relationship, together with Heard’s choice to donate her $7-million settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union, a company for which she is an envoy on girls’s rights.

Wasn’t there a earlier lawsuit?

Sure, in Britain, however it wasn’t instantly in opposition to Heard.

In November 2020, a excessive courtroom within the U.Okay. rejected Depp’s libel lawsuit in opposition to the writer of the British tabloid the Solar, which known as him a “spouse beater” in an article.

The three-week trial included testimony from Depp and Heard, who offered scandalous conflicting testimony about their turbulent years collectively — together with admissions of heavy drug use by Depp and allegations of violence on both sides.

In March 2021, Depp’s try to enchantment the decision was rejected. After his U.Okay. case was dismissed, the Hollywood Vampires rocker was pushed out of his multi-film function in Warner Bros.’ “Implausible Beasts 3″ and resigned on the studio’s request.

What did Heard write within the op-ed on the heart of the present case?

A blond woman waving

Amber Heard arrives at a courtroom in London in 2020.

(Frank Augstein / Related Press)

In December 2018 — following the #MeToo motion and amid the contentious affirmation hearings for Supreme Courtroom Justice Brett Kavanaugh — Heard wrote an op-ed within the Washington Post titled: “I spoke up in opposition to sexual violence — and confronted our tradition’s wrath. That has to vary.”

Although she didn’t title Depp in her piece, the “Justice League” actor mentioned that in 2016 she “grew to become a public determine representing home abuse.” She mirrored on her personal experiences with abuse — starting at a younger age — and advocated for Congress to “reauthorize and strengthen” the Violence Towards Girls Act “to bolster and construct establishments protecting of girls.”

“I felt the total drive of our tradition’s wrath for ladies who communicate out,” she wrote. “Mates and advisers advised me I might by no means once more work as an actress — that I might be blacklisted. A film I used to be connected to recast my function. I had simply shot a two-year marketing campaign because the face of a world trend model, and the corporate dropped me. Questions arose as as to whether I might be capable of preserve my function of Mera within the films ‘Justice League’ and ‘Aquaman.’

“I had the uncommon vantage level of seeing, in actual time, how establishments shield males accused of abuse,” she wrote.

Heard alleged that she needed to change her telephone quantity weekly due to dying threats, hardly ever left her residence for months and was pursued by digital camera drones and photographers.

What’s this newest lawsuit about?

A diptych of a man with long hair wearing sunglasses next to a blond woman

Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard seem in courtroom in London on completely different events in 2020.

(Related Press)

Not lengthy after the op-ed was printed, Depp introduced a $50-million defamation lawsuit in opposition to Heard in March 2019 over the article.

The U.S. grievance, filed within the Circuit Courtroom of Fairfax, mentioned that, whereas Depp was not named within the Put up article, it was clear that Heard and different media retailers reporting on the piece have been speaking about him. The lawsuit known as her ongoing allegations of home abuse “categorically and demonstrably false,” and mentioned that Depp by no means abused Heard.

“Her allegations in opposition to him have been false once they have been made in 2016. They have been a part of an elaborate hoax to generate constructive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her profession,” the lawsuit mentioned. It additionally alleged that “she is the perpetrator” and famous that she had been beforehand arrested on suspicion of violently abusing her former home associate.

The swimsuit mentioned Depp’s popularity and profession have been devastated when Heard first accused him of abuse in 2016 and that the op-ed led to him struggling a brand new spherical of monetary losses and “public scorn,” together with being dropped from his iconic function as Capt. Jack Sparrow in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

Heard responded to Depp’s lawsuit with a $100-million counterclaim of her personal, which alleged the “Edward Scissorhands” star coordinated a marketing campaign aimed toward smearing her.

Her attorneys additionally argued that Heard’s op-ed addressed issues of public concern (akin to laws), whereas Depp’s statements about her didn’t and shouldn’t be protected underneath the First Modification.

Who else is concerned?

Each Depp and Heard are anticipated to take the stand once more throughout this trial, and subpoenas have been served to a number of people, together with divorce lawyer Laura Wasser; Depp’s publicist, Robin Baum; Heard’s expertise agent, Jessica Kovacevic; and Heard’s ex-girlfriend Tasya van Ree.

Actors Paul Bettany and Ellen Barkin, SpaceX boss Elon Musk and actor James Franco, who Depp has accused of getting an affair with Heard, are additionally on the witness lists.

Some will seem in particular person, whereas others will seem by video companies.

Why is it going down in Virginia?

A woman carrying a poster in front of a courthouse that says 'Justice for Johnny'

Tiffany Lunn, a Johnny Depp supporter, stands exterior the Fairfax County Courthouse on Monday.

(Jose Luis Magana / Related Press)

The case was initially filed in Virginia, and Heard’s attorneys have tried to maneuver it to California — the place they reside and the place anti-SLAPP provisions (strategic lawsuit in opposition to public participation) are stronger.

However the Virginia decide dominated that Depp is inside his rights to deliver the case in Virginia as a result of the Washington Put up’s on-line editions are published through servers located in Fairfax County.

Depp’s attorneys have additionally mentioned they filed the lawsuit there in part because the laws are more favorable to their case. Final month, Depp’s legal professional, Benjamin Chew, sought to bar Heard’s attorneys from claiming immunity and argued that anti-SLAPP guidelines aren’t designed to intrude with personal disputes, akin to Depp’s competition that his ex-wife defamed him, the Related Press reported.

Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, argued that her shopper’s Put up article didn’t point out Depp by title and that it addressed a difficulty of public concern: stopping home violence.

Decide Azcarate dominated in opposition to Depp, however that doesn’t imply Heard has immunity for what she wrote. Her authorized staff could make that argument to a jury as a part of her protection.

Instances workers author Christie D’Zurilla and the Related Press contributed to this report.