While legal experts believe that it is a 'tremendous victory' for Depp, Heard said in a statement that she is 'heartbroken' and that the verdict is a 'setback' for women speaking up against violence.
Johnny Depp won all three defamation claims in his case against former wife Amber Heard over her 2018 op-ed essay about coming forward with domestic abuse allegations. In a stunning finish to the celebrity trial that has riveted the nation, the jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages—including $5 million in punitive damages, which the judge capped to $350,000, the legal limit in Virginia. Meanwhile, in regards to Heard's countersuit brought against the Edward Scissorhands star, the jury found that Depp defamed Heard with one statement his attorney made and awarded her $2 million in damages, reports CNN.
For six weeks, the defamation case that the actor Johnny Depp filed against his ex-wife Amber Heard offered a rare instance of high-profile #MeToo charges and countercharges being hashed out in the public spotlight of a courtroom. https://t.co/ItJXGvuXZ0— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 2, 2022
According to PEOPLE, the jury entered deliberations after both sides made closing arguments on Friday. They resumed Tuesday morning after the Memorial Day holiday and after more than 12 total hours of deliberations behind closed doors, unanimously reached the verdict on Wednesday afternoon. CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson called the verdict a "tremendous" legal win for Depp and a repudiation for Heard. "It's a tremendous victory," Jackson said. "What he had to overcome was a First Amendment issue which is that we all have the right to express our thoughts and opinions. What they (the jurors) said was that, yeah, you do have a First Amendment right unless you say something that is false that injures someone's reputation and causes damages to them in their industry."
Heard—who kept her eyes down as the verdict was read aloud in the Fairfax County, Virginia, courtroom—said in a statement that she is "heartbroken" over the outcome of the trial. "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," the 36-year-old said. "I'm even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously."
In her Washington Post op-ed titled "Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence—and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change," Heard described herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." Without mentioning Depp by name, she wrote: "Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture's wrath for women who speak out... I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse." Depp and Heard met in 2009 on the set of their film The Rum Diary and were married from 2015 to 2016 when Heard filed for divorce and domestic violence restraining order.
Here's what Johnny Depp's attorneys, Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew, said after a jury awarded Depp $10.35 million in his libel suit against Amber Heard #DeppVsHeard https://t.co/uK6h5LtEvr pic.twitter.com/gg5LdHoxx9— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) June 1, 2022
When the pair reached a divorce settlement in the fall of 2016, they released a joint statement to the media in which they said: "Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity." However, Depp's team proved in court that the actress has yet to fulfill those pledges, which were scheduled to be paid in annual increments. Taking the stand, Heard said she "would love him to stop suing me so I can" make good on the promised charitable payments.
Depp, who was not in court for the reveal due to a previously scheduled work commitment, later said in a statement that "the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled... 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... The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Kevin Dietsch