The Deep Heard Defamation Trial: What Did the Jury Consider?

FAFA, Virginia (AP) – After a six-week trial, a jury in Virginia spent about 12 hours over three days examining the defamation claims of Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. On Wednesday afternoon, the jury awarded Depp more than $ 10 million in damages, finding Hurd’s counterclaim also well-founded, awarding her $ 2 million in damages.

At the trial, vivid testimonies were shown with obvious details about the short and unstable marriage of movie stars. But what was it really about? And what did the jury have to decide ?:


Depp has filed a $ 50 million defamation lawsuit against Hurd, claiming that a 2018 article she wrote in The Washington Post damaged his reputation and damaged his career. In the article, Hurd called herself a “public figure representing domestic violence.” Depp was not named by name in the article, but his attorneys claimed it was clear she meant Depp, given that she publicly accused him of domestic violence during the 2016 marriage process. Hurd’s lawyers said that most of the article was devoted to public policy on domestic violence, and that she was entitled under the first amendment to weigh the issue. They also claim that Depp actually abused Hurd.


During the trial, Hurd described more than a dozen specific cases where she said Depp abused her, including her allegation that he sexually assaulted her with a bottle of alcohol in an alcoholic rage. Depp denies any physical or sexual abuse and says Hurd has come up with claims to ruin his reputation. He also claimed that she repeatedly attacked him physically.


A jury of seven people had to decide whether the two excerpts and the title of the article were defamatory. The form of the jury’s verdict gave the jury instructions on how to determine that, including by asking them if the allegations about Depp were false and had a defamatory connotation. Since Depp is a public figure, it was necessary for the jury to find out that she had committed libel, that Hurd had acted with “true malice”, that is, that she either knew that she had written falsely or that she had acted with reckless disregard for the truth. .

The jury ruled in Depp’s favor on all three counts, believing she had indeed acted with malice. Hurd’s lawyers told the jury that Depp’s defamation lawsuit would not be credited if Hurd suffered at least one incident of abuse.


Hurd filed a $ 100 million counterclaim against Depp after his former lawyer called her allegations a hoax. The counterclaim received less attention during the trial, but Hurd’s attorney told the jury that it would allow the jury to compensate Hurd for the damage Depp inflicted on her by organizing a defamation campaign after they broke up.

In the form of a jury verdict, the jury was asked to decide whether Depp’s former lawyer, who acted as Depp’s agent, had made or published three statements concerning Hurd that were false and had been noticed by someone other than Hurd. The jury also had to decide whether Depp’s lawyer made statements with genuine anger. The jury found Hurd denigrated one of those statements in which the lawyer claimed she and friends “spilled some wine and justified the place, found out their stories,” and called police.

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