Johnny Depp’s Defamation Verdict Stuns Legal Experts: ‘Complete and Total Vindication’
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Johnny Depp’s victory in a defamation case against his former wife Amber Heard stunned legal experts One of them said that he’d never witnessed this type of change in public relations throughout his 20-year career.
Another person said that the verdict was an opportunity to regain confidence in the jurist system.
A jury of seven of seven people in Fairfax, Virginia, awarded Depp $15 million on Wednesday, finding Heard had slammed the actor in a Washington Post op-ed by saying she was the victim of domestic violence. Depp was also required to repay Heard $2 million for her claims in the counter-suit.
“Notwithstanding this high burden he had to meet, this was really a complete and total vindication for Johnny Depp,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani spoke to TheWrap.
Depp has lost an identical defamation case in the case against British journal The Sun in November 2020. Rahmani said the outcome of the suit as a “complete and total failure” for Depp however, he noted that the actor had made his “epic comeback” in his suit against Heard.
“This is the most extraordinary legal and public relations comeback of my 20-year legal career,” Rahmani stated.
“Amber Heard was not likeable and she was not credible,” said Rahmani who believes the jury was able to discern Heard’s statements about the facts that weren’t concerning abuse. He said that the “Aquaman” actress “exaggerated injuries” and also lied regarding “donating her $7 million that she was paid to charity, but she didn’t. The video was leaked to TMZ and tipped them off, she claimed the incident didn’t occur, when it was clear that it was.”
In the course of the trial, senior executives of The ACLU along with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles testified that Heard is yet to pay the entire amount she promised to the organizations as part of the divorce settlement she received.
In addition, the attorneys for Heard claimed they had plenty of evidence suggesting Depp was violent. But, Rahmani said pictures shown in court were not consistent with the descriptions of the injuries she claimed. “So, the jurors punished her and they punished her by rejecting all of her claims,” Rahmani stated.
The jury handed Depp $10 million in compensatory damages, and $5 million in punitive damages. However the judge Penney Azcarate said Depp’s punitive damages would be cap-sized, “In accordance with law, I will amend the award to the statutory cap of $350,000 for Depp’s award.”
The jury concluded that Heard dissented from Depp and behaved with malice when she wrote “I stood up to sexual assault and was confronted with the wrath of our culture. It’s time to change that.” They also determined that Depp was slammed through her statement “Then just two years back,, I was a celebrity spokesman for the victims of domestic violence and I was a victim of the wrath of our culture’s women who voice their opinions.”
However, the jury agreed with Heard that the former lawyer of Depp Adam Waldman was acting as an agent for”Donnie Brasco” actor “Donnie Brasco” actor when He told in the Daily Mail, “Amber Heard and her friends in the media used fake sexual violence allegations as both the sword and the shield.” Jurors ruled that the statement was defamatory and handed Heard the sum of $2 million as compensatory damages, but did not award her punitive damages.
Christine Scartz, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law She said that the case gave her renewed confidence with the system for jury selection due to jury members “listened through the noise” to reach a verdict.
However, Scartz said the jury’s decision could have implications for domestic abuse victims in other states.
“Just the idea that if you come forward and speak your truth you may be subject to intense scrutiny for everything you have ever done and that scrutiny could lead folks to conclude that you have fabricated some of your allegations,” Scartz explained.
She also said the victims of domestic violence typically deny allegations of abuse when police arrive, and they tend to be uncooperative and do not seek help. The indicators of abuse may not be always obvious. “All various definitions for domestic violence include more than just bruises, black eyes, and other obvious indicators. Therefore, it is really limiting any definitions of violence in domestic relationships to state that if I can’t see that your nose is damaged then everything else you’re claiming to me is likely been proven to be untrue,” Scartz said.
Scartz expressed her concerns that the verdict might encourage perpetrators to commit more crimes.
“What will be remembered by a lot of people is the absolute, just devastation on Amber Heard’s face when she was describing the things that happened to her,” she stated. “And what’s left for those who perpetrated the crime is the notion that I could create a threat right today. I’ll tell you to are free to tell anyone you’d like but I’ll ensure that every horrible act you’ve done or any tense moment you’ve experienced about this situation will be the subject of discussion in the public domain.”
Rahmani claimed that he believes that Heard’s testimony ultimately ruined the case of her client.
“I don’t know if it was her narcissism, I don’t know if it was bad legal advice, I don’t know if it was her PR team not wanting her to admit anything but she took this very extreme position and I think the jury rejected her testimony outright,” Rahmani declared.
Depp in contrast, was “very likeable, vulnerable and genuine,” according to Rahmani’s assessment.
The attorney from Los Angeles believes that the place of the trial made an important factor in the outcome of the trial. He said it was because First Amendment laws in California favor defendants. In citing the law’s “Anti-SLAPP” statute, which permits a defendant to request the dismissal of a lawsuit at the start of a lawsuit Rahmani believes that the case would have likely had to be dismissed in California.
The trial lasted for seven weeks, with the trial lasting for 24 days. Rahmani believes that the trial took prolonged because the it was not open on Fridays, and there was a long break for a week. He also described the trial as “unique” in that it’s generally “difficult to prove intimate partner violence” however Depp and Heard were surrounded by individuals around them, including security and live-in buddies who were a witness in the trial.
Another reason why the case was dragging on was that it involved damages, and the fact that actors don’t have in a 9-to-5 job where their income is easy to calculate. “Their income is very speculative so you needed lawyers, entertainment experts, social media experts, agents” and medical experts, whose testimony are often extremely detailed.
According to Rahmani the witnesses who rebutted Depp’s testimony were the strongest , which included Kate Moss, LAPD officers who responded to a plea for help but did not see evidence of abuse, as well as the Seattle airport employee who claimed Heard was abusing her ex. “Those are sort of independent witnesses that jurors say, hey this isn’t someone that’s Heard’s sister, this isn’t someone that’s on Depp’s payroll they don’t have a vested interest in the case and those tend to be the most credible witnesses,” Rahmani claimed.