Johnny Depp’s counsel today rested its case in the ongoing defamation suit the actor brought against his ex-wife Amber Heard in March 2019. This is the second lawsuit stemming from the former relationship between Depp and Heard, following a trial in the U.K. in 2020.
Depp’s legal team spent the last 13 days attempting to prove to a jury that Depp was defamed by an op-ed Heard published in the Washington Post in 2018. In it, Heard discussed the treatment of women in sexual assault cases and referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
While Heard did not mention Depp by name in the op-ed, Depp argues that the op-ed not only defamed him, but cost him work. Yesterday, Depp’s agent, Jack Whigham, testified that the op-ed was “catastrophic” for Depp’s career. Whigham also claimed that a reported “$22.5 million verbal deal” that Depp had secured with Disney for a sixth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was scuttled after Heard’s op-ed was published.
Forensic accountant Mike Spindler’s testimony
On Tuesday, forensic accountant Mike Spindler testified that he had analyzed Depp’s earnings following the 2018 op-ed. “I concluded that Mr. Depp suffered lost earnings of approximately $40 million,” Spindler said.
Forensic psychologist Dawn Hughes’s testimony
The first witness to take the stand in Heard’s defense was Dawn Hughes, a clinical and forensic psychologist who specializes in abusive relationships. Hughes, whose professional testimony helped convict NXIVM leader Keith Raniere of charges including sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy, testified that the actress suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from her relationship with Depp. People reported that Hughes made that assessment after talking with Heard multiple times, reading her case files, and interviewing some of Heard’s physicians, as well as her mother.
This testimony comes one week after Dr. Shannon Curry, the forensic psychologist hired by Depp’s team, testified that Heard showed no signs of PTSD.
What happens next
Over the last two weeks, Depp’s legal team called more than two dozen witnesses, including Depp himself. Many witnesses, including Depp’s bodyguard, attested to witnessing volatile behavior from both Heard and Depp.
Now, as Depp’s case wrapped, Heard’s legal team moved to dismiss the entire case, arguing that Depp’s team did not prove their case. It was an expected legal maneuver that could help them on appeal, if Heard loses her case in the lower court.
Presiding judge Penny Azcarate partially denied the motion based on two arguments, per CNN, saying that Depp’s team had shown sufficient evidence of defamation to allow the case to continue. As Deadline noted, Azcarate said that “if there is a scintilla of evidence that a reasonable juror could weigh, then the matter survives a motion to strike.” However, the judge left the door open to one other argument for dismissal, if Heard’s team presents sufficient evidence while making its case.
Heard’s case is expected to kick off with psychologist Dawn Hughes, an expert in abusive relationships, as her first witness.
The trial is set to last six weeks.
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