Jurors In Johnny Depp Defamation Trial Pose Question About Headline In Amber Heard’s Op Ed
Jurors deliberated for their first full day in Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation trial against Amber Heard on Tuesday, as they posted a question to the judge over how they should weigh the headline in Heard’s Washington Post op ed.
The headline for the online version of the December, 2018 piece read “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
Judge Penney Azcarate said that the jurors were wondering if they should consider whether the headline was defamatory, or whether that should be connected to the “the content of the statement, everything in the op ed.”
“I think the confusion came in this particular one because the statement in question is the title of the op ed, so I think they are confused as to whether it is the whole op ed or the title is the statement,” she said. “It is clear that the title is the statement.”
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On the jury verdict forms, the headline is one of three statements that the jury has to weigh in determining whether to rule for Depp. The seven jurors also also will have to decide whether statements in the content of the op ed are defamatory. One of the statements is, “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.” The other statement is, “I had the vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Heard’s legal team has noted that Depp is not mentioned in the op ed or the headline, but his legal team has argued that it was clear to readers who his ex-wife was referring to in the piece.
While the content of Heard’s piece only referred to domestic abuse, and did not specify whether it was physical or emotional, the headline went a step further in its claim of sexual violence.
During the trial, Heard claimed that Depp sexually assaulted her during an argument in March, 2016, but Depp’s legal team spent considerable time trying to undermine that claim.
And while her legal team has noted that she did not write the headline to the op ed — an editor at the Post did — Depp’s side has focused on the fact that she tweeted out the article without disputing its title.
Heard also has countersued for $100 million, and the jury is deliberating on her claims that she was defamed in three difference instances, including in remarks made by Depp’s attorney.
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