Johnny Depp Amber Heard trial: Actors banned from court photos as opening statements start in $50m case

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard arrive at the High Court as libel hearing continues

Opening statements are underway in Johnny Depp’s multi-million defamation lawsuit against his former wife, Amber Heard, which began in Virginia on Monday morning with jury selection.

Seven jurors and four alternates were picked to hear the case. He claims a 2018 article written by Heard in Washington Post – in which she spoke about domestic violence towards women – implied Depp, her former husband, was an abuser.

Although the 35-year-old did not name the actor, lawyers for Depp say Heard’s allegations have made it difficult for the 58-year-old to land roles he previously did.

Depp is known for starring in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeny Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heard has appeared in titles including Aquaman and Drive Angry.

He is asking for $50m (£38.2m) in damages during the trial in Fairfax County’s district courthouse. Heard has meanwhile filed a counterclaim of defamation against Depp, who she divorced from in 2017, for nuisance.

Depp has previously lost a defamation case in the UK against British newspaperThe Sun regarding the claims in Heard’s 2018 article.


Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 15:13


The jury is being shown the opinion piece written by Heard and published in Washington Post in 2018.

Three statements are highlighted in the article.

— “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”

— “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

— “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

Heard did not use Depp’s name in the article.

Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 15:12


Defendant Amber Heard and plaintiff Johnny Depp are seated in the courtroom as Judge Penney Azcarate invites the jury in to be seated.

Depp’s lawyer begins the opening statements, referencing his success at the box office in Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands.

He says that the false statements of Heard have devastated his career and reputation, casting him as an abuser.

“Words matter,” he says.

Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 15:06


Depp arrives at court

Johnny Depp waves to fans as he arrived at the Fairfax County Judicial Center this morning


Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 14:56


Opening statements to begin at 10am as selfies and autographs banned

The multi-million dollar trial involving Johnny Depp and Amber Heard will get fully underway on Tuesday at 10am in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The 58-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star was pictured outside the courthouse on Monday for the selection of the jury in his case against his 35-year-old ex-wife, Heard.

The case centers on allegations of defamation following a 2018 article in Washington Post in which she described herself as a victim of domestic violence, but did not name her ex-husband, Depp.

On Tuesday, both sides will begin to set out their opening statements in the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The trial is expected to last for several weeks.

Depp and Heard will be prohibited from taking selfies with fans and signing autographs outside the courthouse in following an order entered into the docket by the judge last month.

In the order on 29 March, the judge said “Litigants and their legal teams in this trial will not pose for pictures or sign autographs in the Courthouse or on Courthouse Grounds”.

The court attracted a group of supporters and fans of Depp and Heard on Monday when the jury was selected. Some fans were thought to have traveled for hours to be in Fairfax for the trial involving the actors.

Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 14:35


Heard expressed hope pair could ‘move on’ after case

In a message to her followers on Saturday, Amber Heard expressed hope that, once the case brought against her by Johnny Depp concludes, the pair can “move on”.

This latest trial stems from a complaint filed in 2019 by Depp, who alleges Heard defamed him in an op-ed she wrote for Washington Post in 2018.

Heard has filed a counterclaim, accusing Depp of allegedly orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his own lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment.”

She has asked for $100m (£76.8m) in damages, and for immunity from Depp’s claims. He is seeking $50m (£38.4m) meanwhile, as Jacob Stolworthy writes:

Oliver O’Connell12 April 2022 14:00


Recap: The claims made by Amber Heard

Heard, writing in an opinion piece for Washington Post in 2018, referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Although the article did not mention Depp, her ex-husband, by name, the 58-year-old has said his reputation has suffered as a result of the article, which implied he was the abuser.

Ace Associated Press reported, the article clearly refers to allegations of physical and verbal abuse 35-year-old Heard has made elsewhere.

That includes during the couple’s divorce process and in another defamation case involving British newspaperThe Sunin 2020.

A judge dismissed the case, finding that Depp assaulted Heard on a dozen occasions and put her in fear for her life. The same judge said an article published by the newspaper was also “substantially true” in her claims.

Depp meanwhile denies the allegations made against him.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Gino Spocchia12 April 2022 13:45


Placards seen in support of both sides

Among the slogans seen on placards on Monday outside the Fairfax court included “Justice for Johnny” and “Wish you never Heard?”

The signs were held by fans of both Heard and Depp, who claims an article in Washington Post written by his ex-wife in 2018 was defamatory, although it did not name him. The article was about domestic violence.

This is the second lawsuit involving the high profile duo, who finalized their divorce in 2017. Depp has already lost one case in which he failed to provide the publishers of British newspaper The Sun had defamed him by printing a headline with the words “wife beater.”

Heard told the UK’s High Court during that trial how she never wanted to reveal the years of alleged abuse committed against her by Depp, which denies the claims.

A supporter of actor Johnny Depp outside the Fairfax court


A supporter of Amber Heard outside the court in Fairfax


Gino Spocchia12 April 2022 13:30


Judge rules Heard can use anti-Slapp provision

Heard will be able to argue during the trial that she is immune from liability because her Washington Post article in 2018 about domestic violence was an important issue in the public interest.

Lawyers for Depp had argued for the court to refuse to allow Heard to use the law, known as an anti-Slapp (strategic lawsuit against public participation) provision, because it was a civil case.

Both will testify during the trial, which will see the Fairfax County district court assess Heard’s counter defamation claim against Depp, as Ellie Harrison reports:

Gino Spocchia12 April 2022 13:05


Fans banned from camping

The judge in the multi-million dollar Depp and Heard case has prohibited fans of the pair from camping outside the court house in Fairfax, Virginia.

“There will be no overnight camping on Courthouse grounds,” a court order ruled.

That is in addition to a ban on Depp and Heard from taking selfies with fans or signing autographs.

On Monday, as many as 30 fans of Depp appeared outside the court house, with some waiting since 5am to see the 58-year-old, vulture reported.

Many were seen with placards in support of the actor, who has accused his former wife of defamation for an article in which she described herself as a victim of domestic violence. He denies such claims.

Heard has also issued a counter defamation claim for nuisance and is expected to argue she is immune from liability.

Figures including James Franco and Elon Musk are also expected to provide testimonies during the trial, which could draw further fans and followers of the high profile names involved in the case to Fairfax, Virginia.

Gino Spocchia12 April 2022 12:47

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