As a jury deliberates in actor Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, the world awaits the verdict.
But what if that verdict isn’t unanimous, and the seven jurors can’t agree amongst themselves?
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: What happens if Depp verdict isn’t unanimous?
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Depp is suing Heard over her 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post, in which she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Though she did not mention Depp by name in the essay, his lawyers have argued the op-ed defamed him.
During the six-week trial, Heard alleged that Depp physically and verbally abused her during their relationship.
Depp has denied the allegations of abuse throughout the trial, and said during his testimony that he has never “struck any woman in my life.”
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Credit: AP
For Depp to win the case, the jury will have to unanimously agree upon several points, including that Heard’s statements in her 2018 op-ed defamed Depp, and that she made those statements with the knowledge they were false.
But what happens if they can’t unanimously agree?
Defamation lawyer Aaron Minc has been following the Depp-Heard trial and answering questions on his TikTok channel.
“Judges definitely don’t like that,” (when a verdict isn’t unanimous), Minc explained in a recent video.
“(Judges) usually do everything in their power to try and prevent that from happening.
“They will send the jury back multiple times to tell them to try to really hash it out.
Actor Johnny Depp appears in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AP
“But if push comes to shove, and it is just not going to happen, then it will be declared either a ‘deadlocked jury’ or a ‘hung jury.’
“Basically, either way, it’s a mistrial.
“Nobody wins, they all go home, and then Johnny Depp would either have to give up or he would have to try the case again.
“Can you imagine that?
“After all this, if we had a deadlocked jury, and then we had to do this all over again?”
But it’s not just a choice between (a) one party “winning” and being awarded the specified defamation payout, or (b) a hung jury and subsequent mistrial.
Legal experts say the jury has the power to find either party at fault, or without blame, and aren’t bound to the multi-million dollar claims (Depp has sued for US $50 million; Heard has counter-sued for $100 million).
“(The jury) could literally make a statement at the end of the trial saying, ‘You know what, we think maybe both of you were defamed, but we’re not going to award any damages’,” trial consultant Richard Gabriel told NBC News.
Actor Amber Heard leaves during a break in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Friday, May 27, 2022. Actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool) Credit: Steve Helber/AP
The jury’s task
Apart from sifting through the evidence to determine whether Heard defamed Depp in The Washington Post, the jury must also address the countersuit Heard filed over statements made by Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman.
Waldman made three statements in the Daily Mail in 2020 accusing Heard of orchestrating an abuse “hoax.”
Camille Vasquez, who represents Depp in the case, told the jury Friday that Heard is the abuser and that she did in fact orchestrate an “abuse hoax.”
She alleged that Heard fabricated and staged photos that have been submitted as evidence.
Johnny Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez gives closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Friday, May 27, 2022. Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool) Credit: Steve Helber/AP
“Today, on May 27, 2022 … we ask you to give Mr Depp his life back by telling the world that Mr Depp is not the abuser Ms. Heard said he is and hold Ms. Heard accountable for her lies,” Vasquez told the jury.
But Heard’s attorneys pushed back.
They said Heard was verbally, emotionally and physically abused during the course of her relationship with Depp.
Her op-ed, they argued, was about her own experience after that abuse was made public.
Benjamin Rottenborn, one of Heard’s attorneys, said Depp’s team has baselessly claimed that her photo evidence is fake and that they are engaging in victim-blaming.
“The facts are absolutely overwhelming of abuse. One time, that’s all you have to remember,” Rottenborn said.
Actor Amber Heard’s attorney Benjamin Rottenborn speaks at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Friday, May 27, 2022. Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool) Credit: Steve Helber/AP
“Mr Depp simply cannot prove to you that he never once abused Amber.
“A ruling against Amber here sends a message that no matter what you do as an abuse victim, you always have to do more.”
– with NBC
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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Source by 7news.com.au