Home ENTERTAINMENT The Depp-Heard jury will resume deliberations on Tuesday

The Depp-Heard jury will resume deliberations on Tuesday

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A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury heard closing arguments in the controversial trial between movie stars and ex-wives Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on Friday, but after hours of deliberation decided to resume their work after holiday weekend.

Depp sued his ex-wife for libel over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post in which she called herself a public figure representing domestic violence. Depp, who is seeking $50 million, claims the article hurt his career and has denied the abuse allegations. Heard countersued Depp for $100 million after Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman, made several statements to the media describing his claims as false. (The Post is not a defendant in either lawsuit.)

For Depp’s claim, the jury is weighing seven questions, including whether Heard made or published three separate statements in the editorial, including the headline; whether they imply or insinuate anything about Depp; and if so, whether they were false and/or made with real malice. Under Heard’s counterclaim, the jury must decide six issues, including whether Waldman, while acting as Depp’s agent, made the statements, and whether they were false and/or made with actual malice.

The seven-person jury, which will resume deliberations on Tuesday morning, will assess whether the two are entitled to damages, and if so, how much. They began to deliberate around 3 p.m.

FAQ: what to know at the end of the Depp-Heard trial?

Depp’s team attempted to portray Heard as vindictive and abusive, and lawyers argued that she deliberately destroyed his career by accusing him of abuse. Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, said the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ actor filed for divorce in May 2016 after a year of marriage, which infuriated Heard. “She didn’t just want a divorce. She wanted to ruin it,” Vasquez said during closing arguments.

Defense attorneys argue that Depp consistently abused Heard, but that doesn’t really matter in this lawsuit, pointing to First Amendment-protected free speech and that the op-ed actually doesn’t describe any alleged abusive acts to which Heard testified. Instead, Heard’s attorney Ben Rottenborn said, he focused on his “experiences after Johnny Depp.”

“We’re not running away from the fact that when she talked about becoming a public victim representing domestic violence, Amber was talking about her experience reporting domestic violence against Johnny Depp,” Rottenborn said. “But that doesn’t make the article, or the statements, about Johnny Depp.”

Before closing arguments began, Judge Penney Azcarate announced that jurors’ names would be sealed for a year, given the high-profile nature of the case. The trial, which began on April 12, has garnered massive attention and coverage, even with the war raging in Ukraine, the potential overthrow of Roe vs. Wade and several mass shootings.

Depp’s fandom turned out overwhelmingly for the trial, sleeping on the sidewalks overnight to get a spectator wristband to enter the courtroom. Hundreds of people gathered behind the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Friday, eagerly awaiting Depp’s arrival on what could be his last day in court. “When you hear the motorcycles, that’s the time,” one person advised a group. Some dressed in pirate costumes, and a couple brought a pair of collies named Donald and Danny, dressed in ties like “Depp’s legal team”.

In a packed courtroom, both sides made emotional appeals to jurors. Vasquez asked the jury to give Depp “his life…what’s at stake in this trial is a man’s good name”; while Rottenborn called Depp’s lawsuit “victim blaming in its most disgusting form”.

“Think of the message that Mr. Depp and his attorneys send to Amber, and by extension, to all victims of domestic violence everywhere: if you didn’t take pictures, it didn’t happen. If you took pictures, they’re fake. If you didn’t tell your friends, you’re lying. If you told your friends, they’re part of the hoax,” Rottenborn added.

Vasquez told the jury that Heard fabricated his claims and that his testimony was nothing more than “a performance, the role of a lifetime.” She repeated a question Depp’s team asked throughout the trial: Why are there no medical records or photographs detailing Heard’s alleged injuries, and why has no one seen Depp? abuse her?

“As an actress, she was photographed all the time. Where are the pictures of the horrific injuries that Heard described?” asked Vasquez, who also asked again why, if Heard was so scared that Depp would get drunk and high. and the bat, she once gave him a knife engraved with “until the death” as a gift.

“It’s MeToo without MeToo,” Depp’s attorney Benjamin Chew later said.

Rottenborn, pointing to Depp’s heavy drinking and drug use, wondered how the actor could even fairly explain what happened. He reminded a jury of multiple abuse allegations, including those at Hicksville, a luxury Southern California trailer park where Depp allegedly performed a forced cavity search on Heard before trashing a trailer; on a flight to Moscow, during which Heard said he punched her and threatened to break the stewardess’ wrist; and in Australia where she said he sexually assaulted her with a bottle of liquor.

Both sides also addressed Depp’s infamous cut finger, which also happened in that 2015 fight in Australia. Depp claims Heard injured him by throwing a bottle of vodka at him; the defense suggests he injured himself. Rottenborn said it didn’t matter: “Amber could have cut it with an axe, and that has nothing to do with whether Mr. Depp abused her or not.”

The closing arguments represented a strange dichotomy that existed throughout the trial, in which Heard and Depp and their witnesses seem to be telling the same events from completely different angles. Jamie R. Abrams, a law professor at the University of Louisville, said “mirror libel claims filed by both sides against each other” make these closing arguments unique.

“Ordinarily, closing statements present the main strengths of the client’s case and point out weaknesses in the adversary’s case to show that the other party has failed to meet its burden,” Abrams said via email. . “Here both cases have similar weaknesses, which seems to distort some of the emphasis on closing arguments that you might normally see in the trial work.”

The two actors met around 2008 or 2009 when Depp cast Heard in “The Rum Diary,” based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson. Heard’s role has been described as the “dream woman”. They had a flirtation on set but were both in other relationships at the time (Depp with the mother of his two children, Vanessa Paradis; Heard with his wife, Tasya van Ree). When they reconnected during the film’s press tour more than two years later, they were both single.

The two began a whirlwind romance while promoting the film, and Depp said he considers her the “perfect partner”. But about a year later, as many people testified, things started falling apart and the two started fighting all the time. They married in February 2015, but in May 2016 Heard filed for divorce and a restraining order.

Heard moved to Los Angeles as a teenager in the early 2000s to seek acting work, earning small roles in feature films such as “Pineapple Express,” “Zombieland,” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Her break came in 2017, when she was cast in the superhero film “Justice League” as the undersea princess Mera. This led to a co-starring role as the same character, now the titular character’s love interest, in “Aquaman” the following year, a movie that grossed over $1 billion worldwide. She will appear again as Mera in ‘Aquaman and the Last Kingdom’ next year, although she testified that her role had been reduced, and said she thought it was because of publicity negative surrounding Depp’s lawsuit – in particular by statements made by Waldman, Depp’s lawyer, calling his allegations a “hoax of abuse”.

Depp, meanwhile, became a teen idol in the late 1980s after being cast in the Fox TV series “21 Jump Street,” which followed the adventures of young undercover cops. He gained a reputation for portraying quirky characters, often in Tim Burton films, such as the titular ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and Willy Wonka in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, but achieved worldwide fame in as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Billion Dollar Pirates. the Caribbean franchise in 2003, earning him his first of three Best Actor Oscar nominations.

Over the past decade, however, he’s endured a series of skyrocketing films and box office flops, including “Mortdecai” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” The defense argues that his heavy drug and alcohol use caused his career to decline, but Depp blames Heard’s abuse allegations.

Mitra Ahouraian, a Beverly Hills-based attorney who specializes in the entertainment industry, said jurors were “probably fed up with this going on for so long.” She referenced Rottenborn by pointing out that the jury need not believe that Depp was abusive, only that he failed during the trial to prove that he ever abused her once. “Hearing that as a member of the jury is probably a huge relief. It really makes it a lot simpler than, ‘Okay, who abused the most?’ “, she said.

Helena Andrews-Dyer, Sonia Rao and Paul Schwartzman contributed to this report

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