A jury in the state of Virginia, in the United States, will be in charge of deciding if Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp when he wrote an article in the Washington Post in 2018 where he called himself “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The group, made up of seven members, also will decide what damages the 36-year-old actress will have to pay if she is found guilty, or the damage that Depp will have to repair if Amber is innocent.
“The jury will determine damages for both the lawsuit and the counterclaim,” sources close to Heard’s legal team told The Post. “If the jury finds that Amber was liable for Mr. Depp, it would assess damages, if it finds that Mr. Depp was liable for Amber’s counterclaims, it assesses damages.”
It is important to mention that the protagonist of “Aquaman”, who was married to the protagonist of “Pirates of the Caribbean” for 15 months, he is not at risk of going to prison because he does not face any criminal charges, only civil lawsuits.
The actor of “Pirates of the Caribbean” decided to present a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard alleging she harmed his reputation and career, costing him tens of millions of dollars, when he wrote the op-ed in 2018.
Heard did not name Depp in the essay, but his lawyers argue that he was still defaming him because he was clearly referring to the allegations of domestic abuse made by his ex-wife when he filed for divorce in 2016 and obtained a temporary restraining order against him.
Depp denies physically hurting Heard and claims that she was the abusive one in their relationship. Meanwhile, Heard has accused Depp of assaulting her dozens of times.
In response to this lawsuit, Heard filed counterclaims for defamation for $100 million, alleging that Depp is running a “smear campaign” to ruin his life.
The trial began four weeks ago in a Fairfax County courthouse and is currently in a one-week recess. Closing arguments are scheduled for May 27, and the jury could begin deliberating shortly thereafter.
There is a possibility that the jury will not be persuaded by either party and determine that neither Depp nor Heard should receive compensation for damages, the source close to Heard’s legal team told The New York Post.
If the jury does not find Heard guilty, she would be entitled to recover the cost of her legal fees and the amount would be determined by a judge at a later time, the sources said.
But if Depp succeeds, it could have a ‘chilling effect’ that it would discourage other alleged victims from coming forward, Halim Dhanidina, a former California judge and current criminal defense attorney, told The New York Post.
“Every time a libel suit is successful, it has a chilling effect on the discourse. There has always been a chilling effect for victims to come forward and speak out against institutions or entities or people with power because they feel their world could come crashing down on them,” he assured.
If the hypothetical victory also leads to a substantial monetary judgment awarded to Depp, “So I’m sure there are people who would think twice about making statements, if those statements could expose them to legal liability. We don’t want to create a world where people feel like they can say whatever they want even though they know it’s not “It’s true. A verdict will have a chilling effect one way or another, regardless of what it is,” Dhanidina said.