From our correspondent in the United States,
Question after question, the jury answered “yes” about twenty times. Yes, Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp by writing in an editorial that she was “a public figure representing domestic violence ». “Yes,” she said, without even mentioning her ex-husband. “Yes,” she said. When the very heavy figure of $ 15 million in damages – then reduced to just over $ 10 million by the judge – fell, Amber Heard seemed to blame it. Admittedly, the jury also concluded that Johnny Depp had also defamed her and should pay her $ 2 million. But after six weeks of large unpacking, the actor, who was far away, in London, enjoyed a resounding victory on Instagram, writing: “The jury brought me back to life. »
Yet he was facing a judicial Everest. Many observers point out that winning a defamation suit, especially for a celebrity in the United States, home of free speech, is much more difficult in front of a jury than on Twitter. But Johnny Depp was able to count on a team of pugnacious lawyers who tried to prove, on record, that Amber Heard, who appeared at the helm as a victim, was the real culprit in the violence. Or had at least been involved in a toxic relationship. Camille Vasquez, who appeared at the trial, had a triumphant smile in front of the cameras, saying: “This verdict confirms what we have said from the beginning: the accusations against Johnny Depp were defamatory and were not supported by any proof. »
Amber Heard “devastated”
Amber Heard, who has 30 days to appeal – the most controversial point is in the title of the editorial on “sexual violence”, which she did not write but only retweeted – said she was “disappointed”. And “devastated.” She may regret the strategy of her lawyers, who devoted most of their time to the violence she said she had endured, forgetting to stress the protections on freedom of expression in the face of defamation.
In particular, we had to wait until the last day of the pleadings to hear one of his counsel explain to the jurors that even if they didn’t believe everything Amber Heard said, it was enough for Johnny Depp to be violent once, physically or verbally, so that his editorial is not defamatory.
Amber Heard does not say this explicitly, but she implies that this decision could mark a halt to the #MeToo movement. “I am even more disappointed with what this verdict means to other women. It’s a step backwards, to a time when women who testified publicly were humiliated, ”she wrote on Instagram.
It didn’t take long for some to react. Singer Ryan Adams, accused of harassment by seven women, including Mandy Moore, responded to Johnny Depp’s Instagram message with heart and hands-free emojis. And the actor’s action already seemed to have inspired his friend Marilyn Manson, accused of rape and violence by his ex-partner Evan Rachel Wood: the singer filed a defamation suit last March.