Former “Pirates of the Caribbean” superstar Johnny Depp and “Aquaman” actor Amber Heard are lower back in the court docket to determine whether or not Heard libeled her ex-husband in 2018 by writing an op-ed that he believes falsely portrayed him as a home abuser.
And Heard has filed a countersuit against Depp that accuses his attorneys of defaming her.
The new trial, which is predicted to close extra than a month, is the trendy criminal fighting between the well-known exes, who each made appearances in the court docket this week.
The jury decision in the case started out in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia on Monday. A civil jury of seven contributors and 4 alternates was once chosen to hear the case in the course of a trial presided over via Judge Penney S. Azcarate, in accordance to the Associated Press. Opening statements have been made Tuesday.
Here’s what you want to comprehend to capture up on the case.
Who are the key players?
Depp, 58, and Heard, 35, started a relationship in 2012 after assembly throughout the filming of 2011’s “The Rum Diary,” based totally on the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the equal name. That equal year, Depp separated from Vanessa Paradis, his female friend of 14 years, with whom the Academy Award nominee has two children.
The world movie star married Heard in February 2015, however, the marriage lasted much less than two years.
She filed for divorce in May 2016 citing irreconcilable differences. That’s additionally about the time she first publicly accused Depp of home violence — allegations that Depp denied. She additionally delivered an image of herself with a bruised face to court, which bought a choice to order that Depp continue to be away from her.
“Our relationship was once intensely passionate and at instances volatile, however continually sure with the aid of love,” the actors stated in a joint assertion launched after Heard pushed aside her restraining-order petition. “Neither birthday party has made false accusations for monetary gain. There was once by no means any intent of bodily or emotional harm.”
They introduced a divorce agreement in August 2016 and by means of January 2017, a choice finalized the acrimonious split. Still, they endured to publicly bicker about their tumultuous relationship, along with Heard’s selection to donate her $7-million contract to the American Civil Liberties Union, an agency for which she is an ambassador on women’s rights.
Wasn’t there a preceding lawsuit?
In November 2020, an excessive courtroom in the U.K. rejected Depp’s libel lawsuit in opposition to the writer of the British tabloid the Sun, which was known as him a “wife beater” in an article.
The three-week trial protected testimony from Depp and Heard, who introduced scandalous conflicting testimony about their turbulent years collectively — such as admissions of heavy drug use through Depp and allegations of violence on each side.
In March 2021, Depp try to enchantment the verdict that used to be rejected. After his U.K. case was once dismissed, the Hollywood Vampires rocker was once pushed out of his multi-film position in Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts 3″ and resigned at the studio’s request.
What did Heard write in the op-ed at the core of the modern-day case?
In December 2018 — following the #MeToo motion and amid the contentious affirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — Heard wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post titled: “I spoke up in opposition to sexual violence — and confronted our culture’s wrath. That has to change.”
Though she didn’t identify Depp in her piece, the “Justice League” actor stated that in 2016 she “became a public determine representing home abuse.” She mirrored on her very own experiences with abuse — opening at a younger age — and recommended for Congress to “reauthorize and strengthen” the Violence Against Women Act “to bolster and construct establishments defensive of women.”
“I felt the full pressure of our culture’s wrath for ladies who talk out,” she wrote. “Friends and advisers instructed me I would by no means once more work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A film I was once connected to recast my role. I had simply shot a two-year marketing campaign as the face of a world trend brand, and the organization dropped me. Questions arose as to whether or not I would be capable to maintain my function of Mera in the films Justice League and ‘Aquaman.’
“I had the uncommon vantage factor of seeing, in actual time, how establishments guard guys accused of abuse,” she wrote.
Heard alleged that she had to trade her cellphone quantity weekly due to the fact of demise threats, hardly ever left her condo for months, and used to be pursued through digital camera drones and photographers.
What’s this ultra-modern lawsuit about?
Not long after the op-ed was once published, Depp added a $50-million defamation lawsuit in opposition to Heard in March 2019 over the article.
The U.S. complaint, filed in the Circuit Court of Fairfax, stated that whilst Depp used to be no longer named in the Post article, it used to be clear that Heard and different media shops reporting on the piece have been speaking about him. The lawsuit referred to her ongoing allegations of home abuse as “categorically and demonstrably false,” and stated that Depp in no way abused Heard.
“Her allegations in opposition to him had been false when they had been made in 2016. They have been a phase of a tricky hoax to generate tremendous publicity for Ms. Heard and boost her career,” the lawsuit said. It additionally alleged that “she is the perpetrator” and mentioned that she had been earlier arrested on suspicion of violently abusing her former home partner.
The swimsuit stated Depp’s recognition and profession have been devastated when Heard first accused him of abuse in 2016 and that the op-ed led to him struggling with a new spherical of economic losses and “public scorn,” which includes being dropped from his iconic function as Capt. Jack Sparrow in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.
Heard spoke back to Depp’s lawsuit with a $100-million counterclaim of her own, which alleged the “Edward Scissorhands” superstar coordinated a marketing campaign aimed at smearing her.
Her attorneys additionally argued that Heard’s op-ed addressed things of the public subject (such as legislation), whereas Depp’s statements about her did now not and ought to now not be covered beneath the First Amendment.
Who else is involved?
Both Depp and Heard are anticipated to take the stand once more all through this trial, and subpoenas have been served to numerous individuals, consisting of divorce attorney Laura Wasser; Depp’s publicist, Robin Baum; Heard’s brain agent, Jessica Kovacevic; and Heard’s ex-girlfriend Tasya van Ree.
Actors Paul Bettany and Ellen Barkin, SpaceX boss Elon Musk and actor James Franco, who Depp has accused of having an affair with Heard, are additionally on the witness lists.
Some will show up in person, whilst others will show up thru video services.
Why is it taking vicinity in Virginia?
The case was once first filed in Virginia, and Heard’s legal professionals have tried to pass it to California — the place they stay and the place anti-SLAPP provisions (strategic lawsuit towards public participation) are stronger.
But the Virginia choice dominated that Depp is inside his rights to convey the case in Virginia due to the fact the Washington Post’s online versions are posted thru servers placed in Fairfax County.
Depp’s attorneys have additionally stated they filed the lawsuit there in phase due to the fact the legal guidelines are greater favorable to their case. Last month, Depp’s attorney, Benjamin Chew, sought to bar Heard’s attorneys from claiming immunity and argued that anti-SLAPP guidelines are no longer designed to intervene with personal disputes, such as Depp’s rivalry that his ex-wife defamed him, the Associated Press reported.
Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, argued that her client’s Post article didn’t point out Depp through the title and that it addressed a difficulty of public concern: stopping home violence.
Judge Azcarate dominated in opposition to Depp, however that doesn’t suggest Heard has immunity for what she wrote. Her criminal crew can make that argument to a jury as a section of her defense.