Johnny Depp faced a high standard in his libel lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard as a public figure. He was found not guilty by seven jurors who agreed unanimously.Depp claimed that his ex-wife defamed him in a 2018 newspaper op-ed in which she alluded to Depp’s abuse allegations. His name was never spoken of.
Amber Heard was found guilty on all three charges by a Virginia civil jury on Wednesday, finding that Heard not only uttered false and defamatory claims, but also did so with “actual malice,” a tougher standard for cases involving public personalities. The jury decided that Depp deserved more than $10 million.However, Depp’s win was not complete. Part of Heard’s counterclaim was also found to be valid by the jury. They dismissed two of Heard’s three accusations, but decided that a Depp lawyer had defamed her by accusing her of roughing up their flat to make it appear worse for cops. She was granted $2 million by the jury.
A look at each count jurors considered against heard :
Firstly,Jurors assessed whether the online headline of Depp’s op-ed in The Washington Post defamed him: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”Lawyers for Heard said she didn’t compose the headline.
Jurors determined, however, that Heard”made or published” it and that it was defamatory. The Second Count they saw was,
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” the third paragraph of the op-ed read.
Given that Heard publicly accused Depp of domestic abuse in 2016, Depp’s attorneys contended it plainly referred to him.
Heard’s lawyers argued that a mound of evidence revealed Heard had been mistreated multiple times, and that only one instance of verified abuse would render the line non-defamatory. They also contended that the remark was objectively true because it focused on Heard’s experience speaking out rather than Depp.Jurors were split on whether or not the statement was defamatory.
The Third count they looked at was ,”I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”Heard wrote in a second section of the op-ed.
It certainly referred to Depp, according to Depp’s counsel.
And, as with the other two counts, the jury determined that Heard defamed Depp with “actual malice” – that is, there was clear and persuasive evidence that Heard either knew it was untrue or behaved with reckless disregard for the truth.And in all these counts jury found Amber Heard guilty.
Depp was found not guilty of slandering Heard by suggesting she lied about being mistreated after a jury of six men and three women deliberated for over 13 hours over three days. Jurors determined that Heard acted with the level of malice or recklessness required to meet the high bar for defamation claims brought against public people.Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, which was cut by Judge Penney Azcarate to Virginia’s statutory cap of $350,000.