Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues
He claims a 2018 article written by Heard in The Washington Post – in which she spoke about domestic violence towards women – implied Depp, her former husband, was an abuser.
Although the 35-year-old did not name the actor, lawyers for Depp say Heard’s allegations have made it difficult for the 58-year-old to land roles he previously did.
Depp is known for starring in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeny Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heard has appeared in titles including Aquaman and Drive Angry.
He is asking for $50m (£38.2m) in damages during the trial in Fairfax County’s district courthouse. Heard has meanwhile filed a counterclaim of defamation against Depp, who she divorced from in 2017, for nuisance.
Depp has previously lost a defamation case in the UK against British newspaper The Sun regarding the claims in Heard’s 2018 article.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 20:12
Legal dispute was focus of TV documentary last year
The high-profile legal disagreement between Depp and Heard was depicted in a TV documentary series last year on Discovery Plus, which sought to reveal the reasons behind the pair’s two “polarised perspectives”.
The programme – Johnny v Amber – was also billed as the story “of the breakdown” of Depp and Heard’s relationship, including “how it tipped into the celebrity court case of the decade”.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 19:53
Press gather at courthouse as Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard begins
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 19:34
Heard can use anti-Slapp provision, judge ruled last month
Heard will be able to argue during the trial that she is immune from liability because her Washington Post article in 2018 about domestic violence was an important issue in the public interest.
Lawyers for Depp had argued for the court to refuse to allow Heard to use the law, known as an anti-Slapp (strategic lawsuit against public participation) provision, because it was a civil case.
Both will testify during the trial, which will see the Fairfax County district court assess Heard’s counter defamation claim against Depp.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 19:15
Reminder: Heard asked court for restraining order in 2016
When Heard and Depp filed for divorce in 2016, the actress asked a judge for a restraining order against her then estranged-husband, who she said had been “violent” towards her.
Depp – who denies the claims – was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Heard, who told the court in Los Angeles, California, that he had throne a cellphone at her during a fight, and that she was grabbed and hit,as well as screamed at.
“During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me,” Heard wrote in a filing in 2016. “I live in fear that Johnny will return to (our house) unannounced to terrorise me, physically and emotionally.”
Depp lawyers said in a court filing at the time that Heard was “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse”, and the actor rebuked the claims.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 18:45
Heard: ‘I’ll be away for a few weeks’
Here’s the statement issued by Amber Heard on Saturday on her Twitter and Instagram accounts, in which she tells fans she will be “offline for the next few weeks”.
She also thanked her fans for their support, and said “in these coming weeks I will be leaning on it more than ever”.
Heard also addressed Depp’s claim that she had defamed him in an article in 2018 in The Washington Post, and said she continued “to pay the price” for speaking out on the issue of domestic violence.
Depp denies any wrongdoing.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 18:15
Depp and Heard: A timeline of their relationship
From meeting on the set of a 2011 film to filing for divorce in 2016, the history between Depp and Heard will likely be heard again when the trial in Fairfax, Virgina, begins.
The Independent’s Clémence Michallon has a timeline, here:
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 17:56
How long will the trial last?
The trial will likely last several weeks, according to analysts, with the previous case brought by Depp against The Sun newspaper taking three weeks to conclude.
Proceedings at the court in Fairfax, Virginia, began on Monday with jury selection. At the next stage, both sides will present their arguments – including a number of witnesses.
That could take some time to conclude, with the judge also having to rule on Heard’s counterclaim for defamation against her former husband.
She has accused Depp of smearing her with his defamation action, and will likely plead immunity in reference to her Washington Post article from 2018 about being a domestic violence victim.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 17:37
Jury selection underway
The Independent’s Clemence Michallon reports from the courthouse:
Jury selection is underway for the defamation trial opposing Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Fairfax.
Proceedings began around 10am ET with jury selection. Depp and Heard are both present, each sitting on one side of the courthouse with their legal team.
Prospective jurors were first asked whether they’d face any hardship if they were asked to participate in a trial expected to last six weeks. Some were excused on that basis.
Then, the judge and each party’s lawyers asked prospective jurors whether they had read or heard anything about the case, and if so, whether they’d still be able to make an objective determination in this case.
Some jurors have acknowledged previous knowledge of the case, but have generally said they’d be able to keep an open mind if they’re part of the final jury.
Seven jurors and four alternates will be chosen in total.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 17:29
Heard says in statement: ‘I continue to pay the price’
In a statement on Saturday, Heard said she was continuing “to pay the price” for being a woman “speaking out against men in power” and that she was dissapointed her and Depp’s life would again play out in front of a court.
“I never named him,” said Heard on Saturday. “Rather, I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power.”
“I continue to pay the price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny,” she added of her former husband, who she said she has “always maintained a love for”.
Heard’s lawyers will likely argue that she is “immune” from liability during the trial because her opinion article in The Washington Post was a matter of public concern.
The article, which was published in 2018, was titled: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change. It did not name her ex-husband.
Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 17:18