Deppgate: How Johnny Depp Emerged Victorious in Defamation Trial with Amber Heard

Flipped the Script With His Defamation Trial Victory

Social media, non-sequestered jury and early dismissal were among factors the led to the verdict in Virginia court.


After 13 hours of deliberating, the jurors deciding on Johnny Depp’s defamation duel with Amber Heard had reached a verdict.

Judge Penney Azcarate told jurors to retire back to the deliberation room with no deadline on when to return. It could have taken an hour or another three days. After all, juries are given wide latitude on calculating damages, and there’s no formula to follow. They are not given a lot of guidance.

Fifteen minutes later, the jurors returned with specific numbers for the damages.  They awarded Depp $15 million in a verdict in favor of the actor on nearly all counts.

Of the award, $5 million was in punitive damages aimed to punish Heard for especially reprehensible conduct and to deter similar conduct in the future (later reduced to $350,000 in accordance with the state’s statutory cap).


Amber Heard
Amber Heard departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on June 1, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia.
The decision stood in stark contrast with the result in Depp’s suit in the United Kingdom, where he lost a similar defamation case. One major difference that led to the reversal in Depp’s fortunes, said legal experts, is that his case was decided by a jury unlike his trial overseas, which was decided by a judge.

“You have seven individuals in a jury who bring with them their own baggage,” said Amber Melville-Brown, who followed both trials as the head of the U.S. media and reputation team at international law firm Withers. “A judge may be more used to dissociating themselves from the evidence where maybe a group of laypeople are less able to do so.”

Depp on Wednesday was handed a lopsided victory in his suit against Heard, prevailing on all three claims that he was defamed in his ex-wife’s op-ed in The Washington Post. Heard won on only one of her three counterclaims alleging that Depp smeared her by calling her accusations a hoax.

She was awarded $2 million with nothing in punitive damages in the split verdict.

(The Post op-ed now includes an editor’s note about the verdict.)

The headline, which was found to be defamatory, read, “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” The other defamatory statements were “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 rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.” Although the statements did not mention him by name, Depp claimed that they implied that he abused Heard.

In the U.K., Depp lost similar defamation suit against The Sun over calling him a “wife beater.”

As part of its defense, the tabloid newspaper was forced to substantiate its claims under the country’s stringent libel laws, unlike in the U.S. trial, where the burden of proof was on Depp.

The court in that case found that The Sun proved that 12 of the 14 incidents of abuse were substantially true. The suit was not decided by a jury.

The U.K. ruling was among the reasons why Depp’s win in the Virginia trial was so unlikely.

Defamation suits by celebrities and other people in the public interest in the U.S. are exceedingly difficult to win. Part of the reason is because they must prove that the speakers of the defamatory statements made them with actual malice, or the knowledge that they knew the claims were lies or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

“In the U.K., the plaintiff has a much greater chance to win and in the U.S., the defense,” said George Freeman, director of the Media Law Resource Center. “Here, the opposite happened.”

The verdict suggests that jurors rejected Heard’s central theory of the case that if there was even one instance of abuse, then she should win because her statements would then be true. The jury was swayed by Depp’s arguments that Heard faked her injuries, which she documented with photographs and audio recordings, to boost her career by claiming her #MeToo moment. They were convinced that Heard lied about every instance of abuse.

“In contrast to U.K. result, seven people got together in a room and found not only is there not 12 instances of domestic abuse, there’s zero,” said Lee Berlik, a Virginia-based defamation lawyer. “Not only that, they found those vague statements amount to a hoax. It’s hard to reconcile that with a judge in the U.K. finding that [Heard’s] telling the truth.”

Notably, jurors were not sequestered in the Virginia trial, meaning that they may have been exposed to some information or third party context about the case. The trial proved to be a gold mine for online influencers, who took to Twitch and YouTube to react in real time and posted memes on Instagram and Facebook.

Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, argued on NBC’s Today on Thursday that social media played a factor in the verdict.

“The jury went home every night,” Bredehoft said. “They have families. The families are on social media. We had a 10-day break in the middle because of the judicial conference. There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it. And it was horrible. It really, really was lopsided. It’s like the Roman Colosseum.”

The #JusticeForJohnny campaign was more popular than posts supporting Heard, according to social media surveys.

Depp’s post-trial message to fans on Instagram was liked by 17 million as of Thursday, while Heard’s message was liked by roughly 300,000.

Heard was relentlessly mocked by influencers who claimed she faked her testimony recounting multiple instances of abuse at the hands of Depp. She was branded a liar for failing to follow through on her pledge to donate the entirety of her $7 million divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles despite explaining that she had to stop making the donations (which was to be paid over several years) to pay for litigation costs.

“I’m told the jurors couldn’t have avoided all the Johnny Depp fans in and around the courthouse and didn’t avoid all the social media chatter in favor of him,” Freeman said. “It’s not unrealistic to think that had an effect on them. If it did, that’s problematic.”

Choosing nine truly unbiased jurors was a lot to ask for.

Heard’s abuse claims against Depp have been lingering since 2016, when she obtained a domestic violence restraining order.

One man was allowed to be on the jury despite revealing a text from his wife calling Heard “psychotic.” The message goes on to say, “If a man says a woman beat him, they never believe him.”

There’s also the question of whether the judge should have allowed the case to proceed to trial in the first place.

Before a jury was convened, Heard moved to dismiss the suit under the theory that the statements were not specific enough such that they could be inferred to be about Depp.

Berlik took issue with not dismissing the statement, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.” Although there can be defamation by implication, he questioned how the claim concerns Depp at all.

“How do seven minds all agree that this was a false statement?” Berlik asked. “It seems more likely that jury went in and all said ‘We believe Johnny and don’t believe Amber.’”

While he agreed with the judge’s decision to allow the jury to decide whether the statement was defamatory, former California appellate Judge Halim Dhanidina said that, “There comes a point at which a statement is so vague it can’t reasonable be determined to be a statement of fact.”

Dhanidina added, “There’s a point at which the court has to draw a line.”

Another prime target on appeal will be whether the trial should have taken place in Virginia and not California, where both sides reside.

Depp at least partially chose to sue Heard in Virginia because the state at the time did not have an anti-SLAPP law, which allows for the early dismissal of suits intended to chill free speech. Azcarate sided with the Pirates actor that it’s appropriate for the case to be tried in Virginia because the op-ed was printed at the Post‘s plant in Springfield.

If the case was moved to California, Heard could have filed a moved to dismiss the suit early on under California’s generous anti-SLAPP statute. By doing so, Heard would have shifted the burden on Depp to prove that he was likely to prevail in the case. Legal experts agreed a change in venue likely would not have changed the outcome of the trial, but it would have provided another arrow to Heard’s quiver. Combined with a new judge making different rulings, like allowing the trial to be publicly broadcast, it may have gotten her over the hump.

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88