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Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard Court Stenographer Says a 'Few' Jurors Fell Asleep Throughout Trial

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Some of the jurors in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation case struggled to stay awake during the entire six-week trial, according to the court stenographer.

A seven-person jury, consisting of five men and two women, sided mostly with Depp in their verdict that was handed down on Wednesday afternoon in Virginia's Fairfax County Courthouse. They awarded him $15 million in damages (which was reduced to $10.35 million due to a state law), finding that Heard defamed her ex-husband in her 2018 op-ed about domestic abuse, though she didn't mention him by name in the article.

For her defamation countersuit, Heard was awarded $2 million in damages. She plans to appeal the verdict.

In a clip from a new interview with Law & Crime Network, Judy Bellinger — who served as the court reporter and was called a "rockstar" by Judge Penney Azcarate — said that a "few" of the jurors drifted asleep at points during the trial. The juror's names will be sealed for at least one year, the judge previously ruled.

"There were a few jurors who were dozing off," she said, adding that the sleeping jurors were in both the front and back rows. "And it was tough. There were a lot of video deposition, and they would just sit there and all of a sudden I'd see their head drop."

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Actor Johnny Depp greets courtroom staff after closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 27, 2022. - Actor Johnny Depp is suing ex-wife Amber Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse.
Actor Johnny Depp greets courtroom staff after closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 27, 2022. - Actor Johnny Depp is suing ex-wife Amber Heard for libel after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse.

STEVE HELBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Johnny Depp and Judy Bellinger after closing arguments on May 27

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Bellinger also added that the "best" juror who paid the most attention ended up being one of the alternates picked at random and ultimately not involved in the final verdict: "Unfortunately, the one alternate that was on there, she was probably the one that listened the most. I watched her facial expressions, she was very deeply into every word that was being said. I thought she would've made a great juror, and she did not get to see it to the end."

"She was paying close attention," added Bellinger.

After the verdict, Depp, 58, who was not there in person when it was read aloud in the courtroom, said in a statement that the "jury gave me my life back." Heard, 36, wrote in her own statement that she was "heartbroken" over the "setback" for women.

"I believe Johnny's attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the U.K.," she wrote, in part. "I'm sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly."

US actress Amber Heard waits before the jury announced a split verdict in favor of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on their claim and counter-claim in the Depp v. Heard civil defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on June 1, 2022. - A US jury on Wednesday found Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamed each other, but sided far more strongly with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star following an intense libel trial involving bitterly contested allegations of sexual violence and domestic abuse.
US actress Amber Heard waits before the jury announced a split verdict in favor of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard on their claim and counter-claim in the Depp v. Heard civil defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on June 1, 2022. - A US jury on Wednesday found Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamed each other, but sided far more strongly with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star following an intense libel trial involving bitterly contested allegations of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty

Heard's attorney Elaine Bredehoft said on the Today show Thursday morning that she felt the actress was "demonized" during the trial as social media was "absolutely" in favor of Depp, possibly affecting the outcome of the case.

Though jurors were instructed not to research the case or scan social media during breaks from the courtroom, Bredehoft said, "How can you not? They went home every night, 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," the attorney continued of the online attention. "It was like the Roman Colosseum, how they viewed this whole case."

Bredehoft added, "I was against cameras in the courtroom, and I went on record with that and had argued against it because of the sensitive nature of this [case]. But it made it a zoo."