Depp Vs Heard trial: Part I
The Amber Heard vs Johnny Depp trial is a topic of interest on everyone’s radar right now. So, what happened? In short, Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard for 50 million dollars for defamation of character following her op-ed in the Washington Post during the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018, which highlighted acts of abuse and violence that women face.
Heard countersued these allegations for 100 million dollars, stating the same defamation of her character. At this time, Depp and Heard had been separated following their divorce case in 2017 that ended in a non-disclosure agreement of their relationship to the public and a 7-million-dollar settlement to Ms. Heard, in which she pledged to donate to charity.
Now, the article that was published in the Washington Post didn’t mention Depp specifically, but Depp claims that the article created complications for the actor finding work and disrupting his current work projects. This battle is not new to neither Depp nor Heard, for this isn’t the first time Depp has been sued on account of false allegations of being an abuser towards Ms. Heard.
In 2018, following their divorce, The Sun Newspaper, a journalism company based out of Britain published articles regarding the alleged abusive behaviour Depp showed towards Heard. In 2020 Depp sued the journalism company for defamation and false information. The UK trial ended in a loss for Depp, as the ruling decision felt that The Sun upheld its publication with factual evidence by concluding the evidence shown in the case reigned true of the abuse Amber heard faced during their relationship.
The notoriety in this case has been slowing building throughout the years. Johnny Depp continues to fight for his story, and Amber Heard continues to defend her previous statement in the defamation case held in Virginia, following the Washington Post Publication where the evidence will be re-examined publicly.
Depp (Plaintiff) vs Heard (Defendant)
Since both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are both actors, their case is Defamation Per Se. What this means is that the type of defamation claims being made are so serious that they inherently will cause serious reputational harm to either party. They are both claiming defamation so they must prove the following:
Defamation Rules for Public Figures
- The Defendant made false statements about the Plaintiff
- The Defendant lied to a third-party member other than the Plaintiff
- The Defendant intentionally/knowingly lied with disregarding of truth
- The Defendant’s lies caused the Plaintiff reputational harm/ the Defendants lie impacts the Plaintiffs work or trade
- The Defendant’s lie caused harm to the Plaintiff
Johnny Depp’s Claims:
- Heard caused reputational damage to Depp’s career
- Heard lied about Depp abusing her
- Heard violently abused Depp
Amber Heard’s Counter claims:
- Depp violently assaulted Heard
- Depp caused reputational damage to Heard by accusing Heard of lying about the abuse
- Depp has caused reputational damage to her career
Timeline of Events
Johnny arrived on his private island in the Bahamas for his drug detox program. He was accompanied by Dr. Kipper and Debbie Lloyd as well as Heard for the duration of his stay.
Depp and Heard got married in the Bahamas, with multiple accounts of drug usage at the wedding, as well as the guests being mostly friends of Heard, states Gina Deuters on Day 3 of trial.
December 15, 2015
Depp states that he accidentally headbutts Ms. Heard during a confrontation to prevent Heard from violently attacking him further. Amber on this day claims that Depp violently assaulted her, resulting in two black eyes and hair loss and a breaking of her nose.
March 7, 2015
In their home in Australia, Heard claims that an intoxicated Depp assaulted her in their home, while Depp claims that Heard severed his finger following a dispute in the home after she threw a vodka bottle at his band.
April 21, 2016
Following Amber Heard’s Birthday Party, Heard claims that Depp abused her in a similar fashion as May 21sts incidents. Depp accounts that Heard was upset with his lateness to her party and that he was being abused by Heard and later that Heard defecated on his side of their shared bed and blamed it on their dogs.
May 21, 2016
Johnny Depp picked up his belongings from their shared penthouse in Los Angeles, CA. An alleged act of domestic violence occurred. Two LAPD officers were called on the scene and testified no injuries to Ms. Heard.
May 23, 2016 – Amber Heard files for divorce from Depp
May 27, 2016- Heard files a temporary restraining order against Depp
December 18, 2018
Washington Post Op-ed was published
This week started off with a lot of Witness testimonies from Depp’s legal Team. The jury gets insight on Depp’s traumatic childhood, his behaviour as a child and how that’s carried into adulthood. Witness accounts claim that Depp was a shy kid who would often get abused by his mother and started inflicting various coping mechanisms at a very young age, from films, avoidant behaviours and drug usage. Dr.Kipper, Depp’s doctor, testified to Depp’s rehab program in the Bahamas in August of 2014-2015.
None of the witnesses have seen any physical violence firsthand. Dr. Laurel Anderson recalls that she has seen bruises on Heard in December of 2015. No other witnesses said they saw any Physical injuries on Heard at any time. Witnesses only account hearing verbal disputes between Depp and Heard. Testimonies given also attest to Heard being verbally abrasive and her time using substances.
Week one was just a basic overview to get a perspective about the timeline of events talked about above.
Witnesses: Cristi Dembrowski (Johnny Depp’s sister)
Both the Defendant and Plaintiff gave their own opening statements delivered by their legal teams. They listed the claims made above and that evidence would prove that their party is correct.
Starting off the witness stand, Depp’s legal team called Cristi Dembrowski to the witness stand. She gave an account regarding her and Johnny Depp’s childhood. She stated how they grew up with very difficult parental circumstances. Their mother was often abusive and would be physically and verbally reactive. She describes how they would be avoidant towards their mother during those times of abuse.
Dembrowski also gave details of circumstances around the death of their mother on May 20, 2016. She also accounted for her time working for Johnny Depp as his personal manager. She counted her recollection of the types of interactions she saw between Depp and Heard. She recalled that they fought a lot but never witnessed any physical violence and had never seen any injuries on Amber Heard. Heard’s team asked about Depp’s prior substance abuse issues, which Dembrowski was hesitant to discuss. She testified that she never witnessed Depp do drugs firsthand but has told him to stop doing them in past text messages.
Witnesses: Isaac Baruch (Depp’s close friend and resident in at one of the penthouses) and Brandon Patterson (building manager for LA Penthouse)
Patterson gave a deposition testimony to authenticate the video footage from Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s shared LA penthouse. This foundation is important to show the timeline of events that happened on May 21, 2016. This is to establish when Johnny arrived at the penthouse and when the LAPD were called to the penthouse.
Isaac gave a testimony on his relationship with Depp. They are both close friends from high school and following Baruch’s move to Los Angeles, Johnny helped Isaac get his start in the art industry, allowing Baruch to stay in one of his penthouses by March of 2013. Baruch got to work on his paintings while Johnny paid his expenses in exchange to support his art. Baruch recounted that he was close friends with both Johnny and Amber. When asked about the events on May 21, 2016, Baruch testified that he did see broken glass and a red wine stain in the hallway of the penthouse floor and wall leading into a penthouse around 9-10 p.m. The following day of the event, he conveyed to the court that he saw Heard with no visible injuries on her face.
Witnesses: Gina Deuters (Dismissed from trial), Kate James (Amber Heard’s former personal assistant), Dr. Laurel Anderson (former Couples therapist for Depp and Heard), Dr. Kipper (addiction specialist and personal doctor to Depp)
James described her daily duties as Heard’s former assistant and how she was overworked and underpaid. She kept the job because it allowed her to schedule time with her son. James testified that Heard was verbally abrasive to her and would dramatise events or needs especially among friends as she recounts an instance in May 2014. She also testified that she’d witnessed on multiple accounts, Heard consuming several substances such as Provigil, Accutane, shrooms, ecstasy, cocaine and red wine in front of her.
Dr. Laurel Anderson
Anderson testified to the relationship between Heard and Depp as their marriage counsellor. She stated that both Depp and Heard were mutually abusive with one another. She stated that their abusive tendencies are a direct reflection of the traumatic childhoods they both suffered. She says that she never witnessed any acts of violence herself but rather told during her sessions with Depp and/or Heard. Based on her recollection, Anderson states that even though they both acted abusively, Heard was more reactive physically and verbally acting out of pride and that Heard. Anderson testified that she had an encounter she had with Amber on December 17, 2015, where she noticed Heard had bruises on her face, as submitted in evidence pictures (but never asked about the bruises on her face or how they came to be).
Dr. Kipper brought relevancy to Depp’s relationship with substance abuse issues and how those issues were treated and addressed. Kipper stated that he met Johnny a couple months prior to May 22, 2014, for his treatment plan. The drugs stated were alcohol, opiates, benzos and stimulants. At this time, evidence showed text messages between Kipper and Depp discussing the difficulties of the treatment plan with an inference that this was due to Depp’s need to self-medicate to escape verbal abuse from amber. Evidence shows that Depp and Kipper discussed his trouble with sobriety in August of 2014-2015. Kipper flew to Australia with Depp in March of 2015 to oversee his sobriety and treatment plan. On March 7, 2015, Kipper receives a text message from Depp around 5 p.m. stating that the tip of his middle finger has been severed. Kipper testifies that Depp was fully sober and coherent during this incident, but the house was in disarray.