Jury reaches verdict in defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

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Verdict reached in defamation trial between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp
Verdict reached in defamation trial between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp


Amber Heard, Johnny Depp

Our long national nightmare is over: a verdict has been reached in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Depp appeared remotely from the U.K., while Heard was present in the courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia to hear the verdict read at 12p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Johnny Depp won his defamation case against Heard he was awarded $15 million total in damages.

For her countersuit defamation case against Depp, Heard was awarded $2 million total but none in punitive damages. This means that the jury rejected all of Heard’s three statements and her claims of abuse.

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Depp sued his ex-wife for defamation in March 2019, arguing that her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being a victim of domestic violence–in which he was not named–caused damage to his reputation and career. (He lost a similar suit in the UK, where a judge found that 12 of 14 incidents of domestic violence against Heard had occurred.) Heard countersued in August 2020, and has maintained that Depp rallied a coordinated “smear campaign” of online hate against her.

The case has become a cultural lightning rod, to say the least. The controversial decision to allow the trial to be televised (which Stanford Law professor Michelle Dauber called “the single worst decision I can think of in the context of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in recent history”) allowed the lurid facts of the case to spread far and wide. Details of alleged domestic abuse were decontextualized and turned into memes everywhere from TikTok to Saturday Night Live.

Though the trial is now thankfully over, the damage–to Depp and Heard’s reputations, to countless online dilettantes’ understanding of the legal system, and to the feelings of many abuse survivors triggered by the backlash–has sadly been done.