Jury finds Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp
US actress Amber Heard testifies as US actor Johnny Depp looks on during a defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 5, 2022. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/ Pool / AFP via Getty Images
A seven-person jury on Wednesday determined that Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp in the high-profile Depp vs. Heard case.
Driving the news: The trial between the two stars in Fairfax, Va. had attracted immense attention on social media, where many had sided with Depp.
- The jury awarded Depp $15 million — $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The judge later lowered the punitive damages to $350,000, the maximum under Virginia law — bringing the total awarded to Depp around $10.4 million, NBCNews reported.
- The jury also found that Heard proved defamation from statements by Depp's lawyer, Adam Waldman. She received $2 million in compensatory damages.
- The jury didn't fill out the associated damages at first. The judge asked them to fill that part out before reading the verdict.
- The jury deliberated for about 14 hours, CNN reports.
- Heard was present for the verdict, but Depp was not.
What they're saying: "Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed. All in the blink of an eye," Depp said in an Instagram post.
- "And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled," he added.
- "My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought."
Heard also released a statement:
- "The disappointment I feel today is beyond words," Heard said in a tweeted statement. "I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.
- "I'm even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women," she added. "It is a setback."
- "I'm sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly."
Catch up fast: Depp sued Heard for defamation over an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post in 2018, claiming she was a victim of domestic violence. Heard countersued Depp for defamation over his allegations that her claims are false.
- After over a year of legal sparring, Heard filed a countersuit against Depp in 2020, alleging that he defamed her when a lawyer representing him released statements calling her allegations of abuse a hoax.
The big picture: This trial will be remembered as the first major courtroom event to go viral in the TikTok era. The memes and clips that went viral on social media helped to propel record interest and live viewership of trial.
At times, the trial drew so much engagement online, that it surpassed some of the country's biggest and most pressing news stories, including the leaked Supreme Court decision and Russia's war in Ukraine.
- On YouTube alone, millions of people were tuning in to live feeds of the verdict announcement at the courthouse, including a whopping 3.2 million viewers on Law&Crime network's YouTube channel.
- Other channels also saw massive numbers, including 598,000 live viewers on Inside Edition's channel, 450,000 live viewers on Fox News' channel. 289,000 live viewers on NBC Today's channel, 223,000 live viewers on NBC News' channel, 141,000 live viewers on Entertainment Tonight's channel, 68,000 on CBS News and 88,000 live viewers on ABC News' channel.
Go deeper: YouTube creators are feasting on the Depp v. Heard trial
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.
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