Johnny Depp Jury Returns With Question for Judge

They're in their first full day of deliberations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 3:15 PM CDT
Depp Jurors Have Question for Judge
Amber Heard hugs her attorney Elaine Bredehoft after closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Friday, May 27, 2022.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool)

Jurors in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial resumed deliberations Tuesday for the first full day since closing arguments were delivered Friday—and after around four hours, they had a question for the judge. Judge Penney Azcarate said the jury in the civil trial asked about the headline of the Washington Post op-ed at the heart of Depp's $50 million lawsuit, Deadline reports. Heard's op-ed had the headline, "I spoke up against sexual violence—and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change."

The judge said the jurors were unsure whether they were being asked to decide whether only the headline or the entire op-ed was a potentially defamatory statement. Azcarate said she told the jurors that the headline was one of three statements they should be weighing as possibly defamatory—and the only one that referred to sexual violence instead of domestic abuse. The Dec. 2018 op-ed doesn't mention Depp by name but the actor's lawyers argued during the six-week trial that it was clear his ex-wife was referring to him, reports Reuters.

The two other statements the seven-person jury is being asked to consider are, "Then, 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" and "I had the vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse." The AP notes that because Depp is a public figure, Heard can only be found guilty of libel if the jury decides she acted with "actual malice." The jury is also deliberating Heard's $100 million counterclaim, which was filed after a Depp attorney called her domestic abuse allegations a hoax. (Depp joined Jeff Beck onstage at a concert in the UK on Sunday.)

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