The trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has recently dominated the headlines and enthralled the public. The defamation trial of John C. Depp v. Amber Laura Heard took place in Fairfax County, Virginia, from April 11 to June 1, 2022. Plaintiff Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard for defamation on three counts, seeking $50 million in damages. 

The jury held Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard both responsible for defamation and awarded damages at the conclusion of the trial, bringing an end to a carefully watched and emotional trial involving domestic abuse charges. On Wednesday, a jury held both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard guilty for defamation against one other. Due to a false statement in Depp’s lawsuit, he was awarded $15 million in damages, while Heard was given $2 million. But, how did the trial actually reach the final verdict?  

The Inclination to Sue

The relationship between Depp and Heard lasted from around 2012 until 2016, despite the couple getting married in 2015. In 2016, the duo called it quits.  They went to court over an op-ed Heard published in The Washington Post in 2018, in which she talked about suffering domestic violence.  Depp was seeking $50 million in damages in his lawsuit. The jury ruled that Heard could not support her accusations against Depp and that she was aware her claims of abuse were false when she posted her 2018 op-ed. 

Only a few days after filing for divorce, Heard filed a restraining order against Depp. She claimed there had been an incident of domestic violence, but the police could not prove this to be true and Depp denied this instance. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2017.

It started in 2019 when Depp began to sue Heard seeking $50 million for defamation due to her Post article. Depp also began to speak out and share that Heard was the abuser, not him.

After Depp’s loss of in a libel trial in the UK and evidence that Heard hit him, she countersued for $100 million in 2021.

Yet, to Depp, the case was never about the money. This was all about restoring his reputation.

Progression of the Trial

The defamation trial began to commence on April 11th in Fairfax County, Virginia, opening with a reading of Ms. Heard’s op-ed sharing the “Aquaman” actress used her right to free speech.

Heard’s lawyers targeted the subject of Depp’s alleged substance abuse and text messaging. They claimed him the perpetrator and to have started the issues due to his drug/alcohol influence. She began her part playing audio of their arguments and sharing vulgar things coming from Depp.

Depp began to testify on April 19 and the cross-examination lasted four days. He began by sharing his perception on their fights as a couple. Depp shared the notion that Heard had a need for conflict. He continued to share she was the instigator and would lack control which resulted in her striking him.

Heard’s lawyers shared text messages from Depp to falsify his word on their so-called relationship and to put down his character. The messages relayed explicit language and a need to stop drinking. Depp, indeed, shared shame for some of these messages.

Depp was given little time to react, typically being limited to “yes or no” questions concerning whether Heard’s attorney correctly relayed communications or to validate assertions made by her lawyer. His lawyers questioned him again, and he defended some of his communications by claiming that only he and a friend would get the humor. For example, a quote on “burning” Heard was taken from Monty Python, a comedy sketch television show.

Throughout the trial, progressing through the month of May, Heard began to receive negative backlash across social media which resulted in her firing her public relations firm, Precision Strategies.

After a long course of painting this picture of a man trapped by his own demons of drug and alcohol abuse, Heard rested her case and Depp rose to the stand.

Depp shared the struggle of sitting there through Heard’s testimony which he concluded to be “false”. He shared the heartbreaking feeling of being ripped apart only to have prove who he is by putting himself together again.

Heard also rose to the stand one last time, May 26, before their closing arguments. All followed the disassembly. She shares that Depp has taken her voice away in this society we live in just as the #MeToo Movement proclaims. She shares that she will no longer stand this system we stand for.

The case closed May 27 and it was time for the seven member jury to reach a verdict. The jury reached the verdict on June 1st awarding Depp $15 million (which turns into being $10.3 million) and Heard $2 million which damages her financial status causing her to appeal.

#MeToo Movement Still Intact

The MeToo Movement is a social movement against sexual violence and harassment in which people speak out about their sexual abuse or harassment encounters. Some have related the Depp v. Heard trial to this moment and share that the verdict took a huge blow to #MeToo. Yet, that is not the case.

Surprisingly, in our post-Me Too society, the jury and the voice of the people online ultimately backed up Depp.

The #MeToo Movement was made to remove systemic barriers embedded into our lives. Heard has proclaimed she is an advocate for victims of abuse in her op-ed, “I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture‚Äôs wrath for women who speak out.” This has been used throughout the length of the trial towards the media to sway public opinion.

The facts surrounding this case appear to validate those anxieties, raising the possibility that some victims will be hesitant to speak out about their experiences or will distrust the courts as a means of justice. However, this movement only supports women who have been victimized by these heinous acts, not males.

Depp’s lawyers share that the verdict should not affect the movement as Heard and many other supporters think otherwise. No other woman has come forward to claim Depp had physically or sexually abused her.

The movement has published a press release on the case affecting their social movement. They have shared how the online media has warped the meaning of #MeToo and shot it down through this case. The verdict of this case will not negatively impact the movement itself, but only the opinions of those who think otherwise due to the lack of complete relevance.

The movement, if anything, would continue to highlight injustice and would not be derailed by a single court verdict in a case that many considered as peculiar.

What Happens Now?

Now that the trial is over, what does this means for Depp and Heard?

Depp has lost of a series of roles within films, such as Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts” and his most famous character Jack Sparrow. There is now high hope that Depp will be recasted within the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The duo have both shared afterthoughts and finals words on the trial via Instagram. Heard shares remarks of disappointment and how this verdict is a step-down for women. Yet, Depp shares his remorse and praise for his supporters. He shares that his dignity and reputation mattered more than the money, which Heard cannot afford.

All-in-all, Depp is grateful to have a life back.