On June 1, 2021, after a tumultuous and invasive trial, a jury finally reached a decision in the case of Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard. The jury seemingly sided with Depp, 58, awarding him $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages. Heard, 36, was also awarded damages in the amount of $2 million. The decision comes after a six-week public hearing of testimony by the ex-couple, Amber alleging physical, verbal, and emotional abuse at the hands of Depp and him refuting said allegations. The two married in 2015 after four years of dating. They first met in 2009 while filming The Rum Diary. In 2016, Heard filed for divorce from the Pirates of the Caribbean star, accusing him of domestic violence. She also requested a restraining order which she later dismissed. Upon the finalization of their divorce, the two seemingly reached a mutual agreement, releasing a statement that in part said their relationship was “passionate and at times volatile but always bound by love.”
The impetus for the case came as a result of Amber’s 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post. Although she didn’t name him directly, she alleges in the article that she had been a victim of abuse. Depp responded by suing her for defamation and in return alleging that it was she who had been abusive to him. From there became what we all now know as the Depp vs. Heard case in which Depp sued Heard for $50 million as well as stating that the allegations in the op-ed caused him to lose work in Hollywood, most notably the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in the upcoming Pirates film.
Heard counter-sued Depp for $100 million and claims of defamation from Depp’s lawyers. Although he was not present during the reading of the verdict, Depp released an official statement on his Instagram page saying, “Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed. All in the blink of an eye.” He added, “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.” Heard, in her own statement said, “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband. I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”
Benjamin Chew, a lawyer for Depp spoke to reporters after the verdict was announced saying, “Now that the jury has reached its conclusive verdict, it’s time to turn the page and look to the future.”
Abron’s Hot Take
I’m not going to relitigate this trial because I feel like it’s been done to death at this point. In the beginning it felt like a case of he said, she said. Amber accuses Johnny of abusing her, Johnny says no, Amber is the one who abused me etc. But as more and more details became public during the trial, it appeared that Amber’s accounts of what happened during her marriage to Johnny were not as true as she claimed. But now that it’s over, I want to focus more on what it all means. I ask this question as the title of this blog post – is there a winner in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard Case? If I were a lawyer, particularly Johnny’s lawyer, the answer to this question would be an obvious yes. And rightfully so as his team was able to provide enough credible proof to dispel Amber’s allegations. But as a journalist, I’m more focused on the court of public opinion. There seems to be a mixed reaction here. While the majority of viewers see Johnny as the victor, there are others who feel that Amber was not believed and therefore her loss is a blow to the #metoo movement. Will Johnny get his career back? Will Amber be victorious in her appeal and if so, what does that say about Johnny? What will become of Amber’s career after this?
These are the questions I think about which is why I don’t believe anyone actually “won,” the case because at the time of this writing, we have not yet seen any results to prove who Hollywood is supporting. But fair is fair and as it pertains to the claims of defamation, Amber did in fact defame Johnny by accusing him of actions he did not commit or that she couldn’t prove he committed in a court of law.
What happens next is yet to be determined. We know that Amber is planning to appeal the jury’s decision and Johnny seems to have already moved on and is focusing on getting his career back. It’s safe to say that this won’t be the last we hear of these two, but my hope is that for Johnny, now that he’s restored his name, that he can continue to work in Hollywood as he is one of the most prolific actors of his generation. There is no Pirates of the Caribbean without his character Captain Jack Sparrow. For Amber, I hope she can find peace within herself but that she also learns from this debacle. She basically filed false claims against Johnny that she knew weren’t true and then drug out a trial I’m almost certain she knew she wouldn’t win. I believe she banked on the “believe all women,” mantra as a way to gain public sympathy.
But unfortunately, her stories had so many holes in them that the jury just didn’t find her a credible witness and she lost a case that she pretty much started when she wrote that op-ed. I for one am glad this case is over. It will surely be talked about for years to come as it is now one of the most scandalous trials in Hollywood history.
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