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  • Writer's pictureThe Legal Digest

Depp v Heard: Verdict Analysis

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

Deep dive into how the jury reached it's verdict in Depp v Heard

We finally have a verdict for the Depp v Heard case after 6 weeks of cross examination and witness testimony, a case which has gained a lot of public interest not just because the plaintiff and witnesses are high-profile celebrities but also because of some of the unusual and shocking evidence provided.

The jury have ruled in favour of Johnny Depp finding that an article Amber heard wrote for the Washington Post defamed her ex-husband Jonny Depp, where she made statements about how she was a victim of abuse during their 15-month marriage.

Amber Heard also counterclaimed for $100m arguing that Depp said her statements are an “abuse hoax” and she claims that she was a victim of sexual violence.

Johnny Depp's claim was for $50m however, he has been awarded $10m in compensatory damages and $5m in punitive damages, Amber Heard has been awarded $2m in compensatory damages. The jury weighed the claims by both parties and decided that both had defamed each other.

Although the trial is for defamation, the case focused on the instances of abuse, which were apparent in the compelling evidence brought forward. I think the verdict can be broken down into the following:

1) The message this sends to abuse victims - Amber Heard’s supporters’ campaign for female victims of sexual violence and claim that this sends the wrong message to them by preventing other victims from coming forward.

I think this verdict teaches us that it is not just women who are victims of abuse but also men. That sometimes abuse is not necessarily physical but also emotional and keeping quiet about it only adds to the growing mental health problems that not only women face but also men. Arguably, Johnny Depp is a champion for the rights of all victims of abuse encouraging them to come forward whether they are men or women so I think this plays an important role in continuing the campaign for victims and also highlighting the signs of potential abuse.

2) Evidence - Despite Amber Heard claiming that she had a mountain of evidence, it wasn’t enough to disprove the evidence that Jonny Depp brought forward including the assessments made by the expert witnesses. The assessment of Amber Heard’s personality disorder and her response to cross examination during the trial probably explains her reaction to some of the instances that were described in court including the ‘feacal matter’, her reason for hitting Johnny Depp on the stairs and why the tip of his finger was cut off.

3) The Lawyers - The legal team’s performance in the court plays a big role in the outcome of the case but at the same time how well they perform rests on the strength of the evidence. There is the argument that just because photos are not available for some of the instances Amber Heard has described doesn’t mean it didn’t happen however, there were so many inconsistencies with Amber Heard’s legal team which ultimately played a role in the final decision.

4) Witnesses - The witness testimony for Depp, rebuts all of the claims that Heard put forward particularly Kate Moss who described the staircase incident as simply that it was raining, she slipped and fell and Depp came helped her.

So much has happened in this case, there have been videos circulating with some of the funniest moments in the trial, probably enough material to make court hearing seem like a fun place to work!


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