Lawyers for Hollywood star Johnny Depp on Tuesday gave a jury an summary of his U.S. defamation case in opposition to his ex-wife Amber Heard, the most recent chapter in a long-running authorized battle between the 2 Hollywood stars. Opening statements kicked off in a Virginia courtroom in a lawsuit Johnny, 58, introduced in opposition to Amber, 35, for $50 million in 2018. Also Read| Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation suit against ex-wife Amber Heard begins; Elon Musk, James Franco may testify
Johnny alleges Amber defamed him when she penned a December 2018 opinion piece within the Washington Post about being a survivor of home abuse. The article by no means talked about Johnny by identify, however his lawyer Benjamin Chew advised jurors on Tuesday that it was clear Amber was referencing the Hollywood main man.
Benjamin advised jurors Amber revealed the piece on the eve of the release of “Aquaman,” her greatest movie but, to drum up publicity and advance her profession. “By choosing to lie about her husband for her own personal benefit, Amber Heard forever changed Mr. Depp’s life and his reputation,” Benjamin stated. “You will hear him tell you the dreadful impact it has had on his life.” Amber’s piece within the Washington Post “devastated” Johnny’s profession, Benjamin stated.
“Hollywood studios don’t want to deal with the public backlash from hiring someone accused of abuse — even someone with the incredible body of work and record that Mr. Depp can be proud of,” Benjamin stated.
J. Benjamin Rottenborn, a lawyer for Amber, stated in his opening assertion that Johnny was attempting to mislead the jury with “crazy conspiracy theories.” Rottenborn stated Amber was telling the reality about “horrific” abuse she endured, however the case is de facto a few slim authorized query: whether or not Heard’s opinion piece was free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“That is the question, and that is what you are being asked to decide,” Rottenborn advised jurors. “Mr. Depp’s team is going to try to turn this case into a soap opera,” Rottenborn stated. “Why? I’m not really sure, because the evidence isn’t pretty for Mr. Depp.”
Another of Amber’s legal professionals, Elaine Bredehoft, stated that in a visit to Australia in 2015, Johnny dragged Amber throughout the ground, punched her, kicked her after which “penetrated her with a liquor bottle.” Johnny shook his head “no” within the courtroom when Elaine made the assertion to jurors.
A state court docket decide in Fairfax County, Virginia, is overseeing the trial, which is predicted to final six weeks. A jury was chosen on Monday. Less than two years in the past Johnny misplaced a libel case in opposition to The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “spouse beater.” A London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted Heard and put her in fear for her life.
In the U.S. case, Johnny and Amber both submitted long lists of potential witnesses they could put on the stand. Amber’s list includes her ex-boyfriend and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, with whom she texted about Johnny. Also on the list of potential witnesses is actor James Franco.
The Washington Post is not a defendant in the case. Johnny’s lawyers have said they filed the case in Fairfax County, outside the District of Columbia, because the newspaper is printed at a facility there. Amber unsuccessfully tried to transfer the case to Los Angeles, where she and Johnny lived.
The United States is a difficult forum for libel plaintiffs, especially public figures like Johnny, who faces several hurdles in the Virginia case. Johnny must prove by clear and convincing evidence that Amber knowingly made false claims. Johnny and Amber met while making 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married four years later. Amber accused Johnny of domestic abuse after filing for divorce in 2016.
Amber is known for her roles in “Aquaman” and “Justice League.” She has brought her own libel claim against Johnny, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar. Amber’s counterclaim will be decided as part of the trial. She is seeking $100 million in damages from Johnny, according to court papers.
In her evidence to the London High Court, Amber said Johnny would turn into a jealous alter ego, “the monster,” after binging on drugs and alcohol and had threatened to kill her. She detailed 14 occasions of extreme violence when she said the actor choked, punched, slapped, head-butted, throttled and kicked her. The London judge accepted 12 of these accounts as true.
Following the November 2020 ruling in the London libel trial, Johnny was replaced with Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen in the third film in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, a spin-off from the “Harry Potter” books and movies.