The jury has returned a verdict in favor of Johnny Depp in his $50 million defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard.
The jury ruled that Heard defamed Depp with malicious intent in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed claiming that she was a victim of domestic abuse and awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
Heard had also countersued Depp for $100 million, claiming her ex-husband’s legal team smeared her when his lawyer called her accusations false and a “hoax.” The jury awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages and zero in punitive damages for one of the claims made by Depp’s lawyer.
The verdict was supposed to be read at 3 p.m. local time, but the jury was sent back to the deliberation room as they had left the damages box blank in one of the work sheets. They returned after a short recess.
Depp was not present for the verdict as he has been performing with Jeff Beck in the United Kingdom, but there was a large crowd of his supporters outside the court.
Depp was suing Heard over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, ghost written for Heard by the ACLU, titled, “I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence — And Faced Our Culture’s Wrath. That Has To Change.”
Though the piece did not name Depp directly, it was clear that she was talking about her ex-husband.
The jury ruled that the article was clearly about Depp, that it intentionally defamed him, and did so with malice.
The six weeks of testimony in the case was broadcast live by multiple networks.
On Tuesday, the jurors asked Judge Penney Azcarate if they were supposed to consider the entire article or just the headline. The judge clarified that it was the headline that they should consider when deciding their verdict.
The judge’s answer is: it means ONLY the headline itself, which is: “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence and faces our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” I.e Using the headline as one of the defamatory statements does not mean the whole article must be false
— Lucia Osborne-Crowley (@LuciaOC_) May 31, 2022
Initially, most of the public opinion was in favor of Heard — leading to Depp being dropped from the Pirates of the Caribbean mega franchise. He was also replaced in the “Fantastic Beasts” film franchise, a spinoff of Harry Potter.
The tide turned when evidence was revealed that Heard was actually the one who was abusive towards Depp.
In addition to audio recordings of Heard mocking and taunting Depp, while admitting to hitting him, the actor alleged that his finger was severed when Heard threw a vodka bottle at him during a fight in 2015.
Heard has denied severing his finger and claimed that Depp sexually assaulted her with a Maker’s Mark bottle that evening.
The seven-person civil jury was made up of five men and two women. They spent 12 hours over the course of three days deliberating.