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Johnny Depp Wins Defamation Trial Against Amber Heard

The actor was awarded $10 million for his defamation claims against his ex-wife while she was awarded $2 million through a countersuit.
Johnny Depp Wins Defamation Trial Against Amber Heard

On Wednesday, Johnny Depp won his defamation trial against Amber Heard, and Heard lost most of her countersuit. In a stunning finish to the celebrity trial that has riveted the nation, Depp was awarded $15 million in damages, including $5 million in punitive damages, which the judge capped to $350,000, the legal limit in Virginia, according to Vox.

In total, he is entitled to $10.35 million. The jury awarded Heard $2 million, with the finding that former Depp attorney Adam Waldman had defamed her.

Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and their $50 million defamation suit, explained (Vox)

Excerpt from Vox: The Fairfax County, Virginia, trial of Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard has become a media sensation. Vanity Fair reported that as Court TV broadcast the trial, it doubled its daytime ratings. Hashtags associated with the trial have repeatedly trended across Twitter, as viewers watch and discuss the celebrity case of the year — its messiness, its scandal, the glamorous movie stars at its heart, and the question of what to believe and how much. This was a murky, perplexing trial. While it was technically a defamation trial over a newspaper article — with Depp suing Heard — at its center was one big conflict. Amber Heard said Johnny Depp abused her, and Depp said Heard abused him. 
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At its outset, writes Politico, most people couldn’t have understood how the trial would grow into a significant cultural moment, swallowing social media feeds and launching countless accounts dedicated to trashing Heard and celebrating Depp. It also has now become the latest event by which we measure the progress of #MeToo.

Some recent takes have argued that the verdict is a lethal blow to the movement. On the other hand, some argue that not every individual case dealing with gendered abuse presents an existential threat to a broad, popular social movement.

What was really at stake in the Depp-Heard trial (Politico)

Excerpt from Politico: But it’s now very difficult to argue that the trial, which unleashed the kind of misogyny we previously saw during such moments as Gamergate, is inconsequential — particularly for anyone hoping to understand the current state of backlash to #MeToo. I called Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami who focuses on the First Amendment and technology, who made a case not just that the trial is a big deal, but that ignoring it actually made all of the misogyny it unleashed even worse. "I’ve just seen so many people bragging about how they weren’t paying attention to it, as if that was some kind of badge of honor," she said. "But the issues are pretty serious."
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In 2020, Hollywood actor Johnny Depp lost a UK libel lawsuit against the Sun newspaper.

At the start of his recent trial, many legal experts suggested that Mr. Depp had a weaker chance of winning than he did in the UK, because the US has very strong free speech protections, reports BBC News. The fact that the jury found that Ms. Heard was guilty of defamation with an article in which she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse means they didn't believe her testimony.

Depp-Heard trial: Why Johnny Depp lost in the UK but won in the US (BBC News)

Excerpt from BBC News: Mark Stephens, an international media lawyer, told the BBC that it's "very rare" that essentially the same case is tried on two sides of the pond and gets different results. He believes the main factor that influenced Mr. Depp's victory in America was the fact that his US trial was before a jury while his UK trial, over an article in the British tabloid that called him a "wife-beater", was before a judge only. "Amber Heard has comprehensively lost in the court of public opinion, and in front of the jury," he said.
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