The events of Johnny Depp seen from a strictly juridical point of view: the consequences of (also) media trials.
The trials, whether civil or criminal, demean the parties involved, demoralizing them in all respects. When the subject of the slope is private, there is no confidentiality. Everything that belonged to the personal sphere becomes “everyone’s thing”. This especially if the protagonists of the dispute are Hollywood stars, known and loved.
In these cases, parallel to the judgment of a professional judge, the mediatic one takes place, of the people. And as you can well imagine, if with the first judgment one can succumb and economically lose even a large sum of money in court costs and so on, it is the second judgment that is more ferocious and deleterious. This is the case of Johnny Depp, who has seen more courtrooms than film sets for three years.
The story began when the thirty-four-year-old actress Amber Heard – Depp’s ex-wife – accused the actor of Pirates of the Caribbean for domestic violence in a statement released for the Washington Post. Later, the tabloid The Sun he labeled Depp as “Wife beater” (“Wife Thumper”), unleashing not only the actor’s wrath, but also his dismissal from the production of Fantastic Beasts 3.
Tried by the negative media and professional resonance that the unedifying description of the tabloid was having, considered by Johnny Depp’s defense to be false and unreal, the Hollywood star decided to go to the High Court of London – court of first instance – and appeal against of The Sun and its entire News Group Newspapers editorial group for defamation, so as to avoid possible destructive effects on his career.
“There is no falsehood in the reconstruction of the tabloid The Sun. Depp regularly and systematically abused his wife,” thundered magazine attorney Sasha Wass during the final plea; to which Depp’s attorney, David Sharborne promptly responded, haranguing that, with the description of the star as “violent” the tabloid “destroys his reputation and ends his career in Hollywood”.
The legal battle in the first instance was long the beauty of 16 hearings from which macabre details emerged worthy of the best cinematic horror thrillers.
If for the press all over the world the judicial affair seemed to take the form of an exciting TV series, where each hearing was expected as a new episode to comment on; for the leading actors it was not quite like that. I wouldn’t have a hard time believing that at some point in the trial the ex-spouses felt like they were inside a meat grinder, with their – fortunately short – marriage story analyzed in the crudest detail.
Harassment, violence, spite, sadism and much more (which here I deliberately decide to spare you, as there are many, perhaps too many, articles around the web that have dug deep into the gloomy events protagonists of history) have been the setting for a toxic relationship, in which there were not only feelings but also addictions to which Depp, according to him, clung to to cope with economic problems.
In short, during the trial, which represents one of the most followed causes in history, unexpected details and background emerged that described the union between Depp and Heard as a real nightmare marriage.
On November 2, 2020, the judge of first instance Andrew Nicol has rejected requests from Johnny Depp, thus confirming the British tabloid. On 129 pages, the London High Court judge ruled that “the plaintiff (Johnny Depp) failed in his libel action. The defendants (The Sun and News Group Newspapers) have shown that what the words published in the offending report were attributable to substantially true facts ”.
Nicol continued in his motivation by stating that during the trial he was able to find at least 12 attacks that Depp would have carried out on his ex-wife, therefore the definition of “thug” would not be defamatory. In addition, the judge of first instance did not like the terms with which Depp defined Heard in the course of the proceedings. The actor had accused the ex of being a “gold researcher”, but Judge Nicol was keen to emphasize that, if the actress had been greedy, she would not have donated the 7 million dollars she had obtained to charity. divorce and previous domestic violence charges.
Nothing could not even the statements made in the course of the case by the exes of Depp, Wynona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis (mother of his two children), called as texts by the actor’s lawyers. The High Court of London – called to settle the dispute in the midst of the MeToo movement – was clear in taking the positions in favor of the tabloid, as well as of the actress and model Amber Heard, considering the terms used by The Sun justified by the evidential results. against the plaintiff.
However, Johnny Depp’s lawyers wasted no time in appealing the High Court decision deemed “perverse and disconcerting”.
Before seeing what happened to the appeal filed by the plaintiff’s lawyers, it is appropriate to clarify how, in the British system – unlike the Italian procedural one – the possibility of appealing at second instance must be examined by another judge’s decision. In short, there must be the necessary requirements to be admitted on appeal. Well, these requirements were not found by the magistrate who was called to judge on the case in question. This impediment is, once again, due to the lack of sufficient arguments.
Thus the second, and at this point, definitive defeat for the American actor who, to rehabilitate his image, ended up crashing his reputation sensationally.
But it doesn’t stop there. Johnny Depp, while the first degree trial in London was still underway, decided to start yet another trial for defamation, against his ex-wife Amber Heard. This time the subpoena has come before the court in Fairfax, Virginia and the plaintiff’s request is for $ 50 million for damage to the image and reputation of Depp, accused of domestic violence. This trial, which had been set for May 7, 2021 but, due to covid-19, has undergone an important postponement by Judge Bruce White, who reassigned the date of the first hearing to April 2022.
Likely, the trial in the United States will not have a happy ending for Johnny Depp, given the previous judgments in Great Britain. In any case, the actor, albeit with a reputation and a scourged image, has demobilized most of his supporters who have not spared themselves in recent months and have demonstrated on social media in favor of Depp with the hashtag #justiceforJohnnyDepp.
It is not known what the future will hold for Johnny Depp, for sure he will try to rehabilitate his image once again in a courtroom.
But to be honest, for my brief experience, a victory can be expected from a judicial dispute in economic terms, but the reputation and personal dignity, as well as professional, is free from the judgment of any procedural level. It is a dimension parallel to the juridical-legal sphere, which only time and society can cure and rehabilitate.