There's So Much Wrong With the Heard, Depp Verdicts

Both actors should have lost their cases, writes Danny Cevallos
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2022 12:46 PM CDT
There's So Much Wrong With the Heard, Depp Verdicts
Actor Amber Heard waits before the verdict is read at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on Wednesday.   (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – It's no wonder Amber Heard is "heartbroken" by the verdicts in her defamation trial with ex-husband Johnny Depp. "It means the jurors didn't believe [she] was ever abused"—physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically, or financially—"not once," legal analyst Danny Cevallos writes at NBC News. "The jury could have found Heard to have exaggerated. It could have even found her at times not credible." But jurors apparently couldn't find even one credible instance of abuse. And in Cevallos' opinion, that's the wrong conclusion. Indeed, "there's plenty of evidence of abusive, aggressive language and behavior by Depp," he writes in an analysis.

For his part, Depp had to prove three statements made by Heard in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed were about him, false, known to be false by the writer, defamatory, and intended to be defamatory. One of these statements was the headline. But it "only says she 'spoke up against sexual violence.' It doesn't say that she's a survivor of sexual abuse, and abuse at the hands of Depp," Cevallos writes. Plus, Heard "likely didn't write the headline." Jurors found it to be defamatory regardless. They concluded the same in regard to a second statement describing Heard as a "public figure representing domestic abuse," apparently seeing it as insinuating that Heard is a domestic abuse survivor, though "reasonable minds could differ."

The thing is "Heard should have lost, too." Her countersuit focused on comments made by Depp's attorney, Adam Waldman. "If Heard proved that Waldman was Depp's agent, and he acted within the scope of his agency, then Depp could be liable for Waldman's statements ... But Heard's counterclaims should have failed in their entirety if the jury thought Waldman (Depp) believed his words were substantially accurate at the time they were published." Ultimately, the jury concluded Waldman's statement that "Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up" in "an ambush, a hoax" was defamatory, likely concluding at least one of those details was false, Cevallos writes. (Read more opinion stories.)

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