The trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard was unlike anything the modern age has seen before. The entire trial was live-streamed and everyone had an opinion. Depp filed a defamation complaint against Heard, claiming $50 million in damages.
Depp argued that a 2018 op-ed written by Heard and published in The Washington Post harmed his career due to three parts of the article where she implied that Depp abused her. Heard filed counterclaims against Depp, claiming $100 million in damages. Part of her counterclaims included a statement by Depp’s former lawyer, Adam Waldman, who told The Daily Mail that Heard and her friends « roughed up » Depp’s penthouse as part of a « hoax. »
But Depp’s former agent says that the only one responsible for his career falling apart was himself. Her deposition, which was played during the trial, saw the agent making all sorts of claims regarding Depp’s behavior, substance abuse, and financial situation.
Depp and Heard’s Relationship As Told During The Trial
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met in 2009 during the filming of The Rum Diary. Heard said their relationship began « around the end of 2011 or early 2012. » In January 2014, the couple became engaged and in 2015, they were married. Heard filed for divorce in May 2016 and was granted a temporary restraining order against Depp. He claimed she was « attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse. »
Heard testified during her deposition that Depp was « verbally and physically abusive » during their relationship. Photos of her alleged injuries were published by the media, as well as a video which featured Depp banging on kitchen cabinets. The video was published by TMZ and during the trial, Depp’s lawyers claimed Heard sent the video to the outlet. Heard denied this, but a video clip of her 2016 deposition was played during the trial where she allegedly slipped up.
In the video, Heard said that she wanted Depp to find out about her filing for divorce « from some other source other than TMZ, which was alerted. » At that moment, Heard immediately stopped talking and covered her face. When asked by Depp’s lawyer about the alleged slip-up, Heard continued to deny she alerted TMZ.
Depp’s legal team sought to portray Heard as the abuser and instigator, with Depp denying ever abusing Heard. Both Depp and Heard accused the other of verbal and physical abuse during the trial. Both presented photos of themselves bruised and with injuries. Depp’s team brought in a digital forensic expert, who claimed the pictures of Heard’s injuries were modified. This was denied by a forensics investigator brought on by Heard’s team.
Heard testified that she once punched Depp to protect her sister from being attacked by him. She referenced a story where Depp allegedly pushed Kate Moss down a flight of stars. Moss later testified in the trial and said that story isn’t true.
There were also audio recordings played in court. During one audio clip, Depp is talking about an alleged fight with Heard that resulted in part of his finger getting sliced off.
At one point in the recording, Heard says, « Tell the world, Johnny, tell them ‘I, Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence… and it’s a fair fight.’ And see how many people believe or side with you. »
In another clip, Depp says Heard punched him. She is then heard saying that she was hitting him rather than punching him. Despite this apparent confession, Heard denied abusing Depp. Heard said that her actions were in self-defense, even though in the audio recording, Heard admitted to starting a physical fight.
Depp’s Former Agent Says His Behavior Is To Blame
Tracey Jacobs is an agent at United Talent Agency who represented Depp for 30 years until he fired her. She appeared via a video deposition from 2016. In the deposition, she said that Depp’s own behavior is what caused his star power to dim, not Heard’s allegations.
Jacobs said that Depp would often show up late to set during the last 10 years of her time representing him. She said this helped him develop a reputation that made it more difficult to get work. When Depp would be reprimanded for his tardiness, Jacobs said that she tried to tell him it would harm his career. She also said that he began using alcohol and drugs more frequently.
Jacobs also said that Depp requested $20 million at a meeting with UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and Chairman Jim Berkus, in which they denied his request. Depp’s former business manager, Joel Mandel, previously testified that Depp’s spending had grown following the success of Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003. However, Mandel said that Depp’s income waned following several less successful films. He claimed this led to Deep’s « dire » financial condition.
Jacobs testified that the agency helped him get a loan from Bank of America and Depp never said why he needed the money. Jacobs also stated that the many lawsuits Depp filed were another factor in harming his image.
The Verdict And Where Things Stand Today
The trial came to a close on June 1, 2022. The jury found that Heard defamed Depp with actual malice. They found that Depp proved all three elements of defamation for all three statements in Heard’s op-ed. Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Those damages ended up being reduced to $350,000 because of a limit imposed by Virginia state law.
The jury found that the second of the three contested statements of Waldman to The Daily Mail were defamatory and false with actual malice. The jury concluded that Heard’s attorneys didn’t prove all the elements of defamation in regard to the other two contested statements. Those were Waldman’s allegations of Heard’s « sexual violence hoax » and « abuse hoax » against Depp. Heard received $2 million from Depp in compensatory damages but no punitive damages.
Following the trial, Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, appeared on morning shows to discuss the verdict. Depp’s lawyers followed suit, and Heard did an interview herself with NBC News. On July 1, 2022, the court was asked to set aside the verdict in favor of Depp in its entirety, dismiss the complaint or order a new trial by Heard’s legal team. These motions were denied.