Johnny Depp trial live: Amber Heard and actor arrive at Virginia court for $50m defamation case



<p>Johnny Depp and Amber Heard outside a London court in 2020</p>
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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard outside a London court in 2020

(AP)

Johnny Depp’s multi-million defamation lawsuit against his former wife, Amber Heard, will begin in Virginia later today.

He claims a 2018 article written by Heard in The Washington Post – in which she spoke about domestic violence towards women – implied Depp, her former husband, was an abuser.

Although the 35-year-old did not name the actor, lawyers for Depp say Heard’s allegations have made it difficult for the 58-year-old to land roles he previously did.

Depp is known for starring in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeny Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heard has appeared in titles including Aquaman and Drive Angry.

He is asking for $50m (£38.2m) in damages during the trial in Fairfax County’s district courthouse. Heard has meanwhile filed a counterclaim of defamation against Depp, who she divorced from in 2017, for nuisance.

Depp has previously lost a defamation case in the UK against British newspaper The Sun regarding the claims in Heard’s 2018 article.

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Previous Depp and Heard trial appearances

This is not the first time Depp and Heard have appeared in court after he failed to sue the publishers of The Sun newspaper for defamation in 2020.

A judge ruled that the headline of an article written by The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton in 2018 was “substantially true”. It described the actor as a “wife beater”, which he denies.

Depp, whose lawyers called the judge’s ruling “perverse”, was not allowed to appeal the decision either.

He also denied the claims made in the article and by Heard, who spoke in court as a witness during the case in London’s Royal Courts of Justice.

While Depp says he was forced to stand down from his role in the film Fantastic Beasts – The Harry Potter spin-off – following the trial, he has attended number of film events and was awarded a by the San Sebastian film festival in Spain for his lifetime achievements. The decision proved highly controversial.

Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 16:59

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Who could testify during the trial?

Ahead of the trial due to begin today in Virginia, Depp and Heard have each published a list of witnesses their teams may wish to call upon, writes The Independent’s Clemence Michallon.

They have each filed lists of objections to some of the other side’s witnesses, so the final pool of witnesses will become clearer and may evolve as the proceedings go on.

Some of the people named as potential witnesses so far include Tesla-founder Elon Musk and actor James Franco…

Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 16:40

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Why is the trial taking place in Virginia?

Although the couple both live in California, the defamation case brought by Depp against his former wife is in Virginia, where the trial will play out at Fairfax County’s district courthouse.

Online editions of The Washington Post are published through servers located in Fairfax County, which is thought to be one of the reasons behind Depp’s lawyers deciding on the location.

Another is because of Virginia’s anti-Slapp law, which is not as broad as the one in California. The provision allows a person to claim protection from a lawsuit when speaking about issues of public concern.

Lawyers for Heard, who have filed a counter defamation claim, are expected to use the anti-Slapp law during the trial. It comes four years after her Washington Post article titled: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 16:21

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Johnny Depp fans waited outside the courthouse to catch a glimpse of the actor

(EPA)

(EPA)

Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 15:52

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Heard said in 2020 she wanted to be ‘left alone’

Appearing as a witness during Depp’s trial against British newspaper The Sun in 2020, Heard said she wanted to be “left alone” and wanted her former husband to end lawsuits over domestic abuse claims to “save him the embarrassment.”

“I didn’t want to do this, I did not want to expose this totality of what really happened to me,” Heard told London’s Royal Courts of Justice. “I didn’t want to talk about everything that happened in our marriage and happened in our relationship.”

While Depp denies the claims, Heard told the court of 14 allegations of “violence” by Depp between 2013 and 2016, in locations such as a rented house in Australia, his private island in the Bahamas and a private jet, as The Associated Press reported two years ago.

The judge ruled against Depp, who accused the publisher of The Sun of defaming him with a headline including the words “wife beater”. His lawyers later called the judge’s decision “perverse”.

Gino Spocchia11 April 2022 15:30

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Depp and Heard have arrived at the courthouse

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have arrived at the courthouse for jury selection in the $50m defamation trial.

Oliver O’Connell11 April 2022 15:17

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Franco and Musk to provide testimony

James Franco and Elon Musk are among the high-profile names who will provide testimony during the case between Depp and Heard.

Paul Bethany, of WandaVisionas well as representatives of the Walt Disney company and Warner Bros. are also due to appear in the Fairfax County court, reported deadline.

The long-delayed trial is due to begin later today with the selection of a jury.

Gino Spocchia11 April 2022 15:10

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Legal dispute was focus of TV documentary last year

The high-profile legal disagreement between Depp and Heard was depicted in a TV documentary series Discovery Plus, which sought to reveal the reasons behind the pair’s two “polarised perspectives”.

The program – Johnny v Amber – was also billed as the story “of the breakdown” of Depp and Heard’s relationship, including “how it tipped into the celebrity court case of the decade”.

Gino Spocchia11 April 2022 14:55

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Why is the trial taking place in Virginia?

Although the couple both live in California, the defamation case brought by Depp against his former wife is in Virginia, where the trial will play out at Fairfax County’s district courthouse.

Online editions of The Washington Post are published through servers located in Fairfax County, which is thought to be one of the reasons behind Depp’s lawyers deciding on the location.

Another is because of Virginia’s anti-Slapp law, which is not as broad as the one in California. The provision allows a person to claim protection from a lawsuit when speaking about issues of public concern.

Lawyers for Heard, who have filed a counter defamation claim, are expected to use the anti-Slapp law during the trial. It comes four years after her Washington Post article titled: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

Gino Spocchia11 April 2022 14:40

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Outside the court

The court building in Fairfax, Virginia, will be busy over the coming weeks, as it is where the trial involving Depp and Heard will take place.

A live stream will be broadcast from the court when the trial begins, although it is unclear whether there will be a stream on Monday, when jury selection is taking place.

The Fairfax County General District Court building

(Getty Images)

Gino Spocchia11 April 2022 14:30

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