The popular jury, which has to rule on the defamation lawsuit of the two ex-spouses, has been struggling to find an agreement for days.
America is holding its breath. Five days after the end of the proceedings between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, the outcome of this legal battle remains unknown. Initially expected on Friday, the decision of the popular jury was postponed until yesterday, and could finally fall this Wednesday … or be postponed until tomorrow.
“It can take days,” Nicolas Rebbot, a lawyer at the Paris bar and a specialist in media law, told BFMTV. “(The jurors) had started deliberating on Friday, they couldn’t agree, and since it’s a long weekend in the United States (Monday was a holiday, ed.) They went home and (returned Tuesday). “
The mission is daunting: this seven-member jury of five men and two women must consider both Johnny Depp’s and Amber Heard’s applications at the same time. And to name a culprit between the two actors, married between 2015 and 2016, who are suing each other for defamation. And their final decision on this six-week trial, which took place over six weeks in the city of Fairfax, Virginia, must be made unanimously. As reported by AFP, they still have not reached an agreement despite nine hours of deliberations since Friday.
Reputation and career
Tens of millions of dollars are at stake. Johnny Depp’s original lawsuit alleges the publication ofa forum published in 2018 in the Washington Post in which Amber Heard claimed to have been the victim of domestic violence, but did not name her ex-husband. The actor of Pirates of the Caribbean estimates that his ex-wife’s remarks in this forum have ruined his reputation and career in Hollywood, and is demanding $ 50 million from him.
Amber Heard responded with another defamation lawsuit regarding Johnny Depp’s lawyer, who allegedly called the actress’ statementsAquaman of false. She is asking for $ 100 million from her ex-husband, and estimates that this “futile” complaint prolongs her ex-husband’s “abuse and harassment” and has jeopardized her own career.
The jury must decide on these two charges and decide on the amount of damages which will be paid by the person convicted. All according to very specific criteria, as reported by the Washington Post: Regarding Johnny Depp’s complaint, they have to answer seven questions. In particular, determine whether Amber Heard made three separate statements in her forum, whether they refer directly or indirectly to Johnny Depp, and whether they were false and / or made with intent to harm. Regarding Amber Heard’s counterattack, they have to answer six similar questions about what Johnny Depp’s lawyer said.
Added to that is the pressure of having to decide one of the most publicized trials in recent years. Major US channels, from CBS to CNN, have reported all the developments. Court TV or Law & Crime Network, two online channels, broadcast live images of the trial. Each excerpt was analyzed, commented on, sometimes to the extreme. On TikTok, countless videos of audience footage have been posted, and they all have millions of views. So much so that the identities of the seven jurors are kept secret for a year.
Defamation and domestic violence
Finally, there is a case in point, on which the jury will rule implicitly in its verdict. For if the proceedings revolve around the defamation charges, the underlying question is quite different: has there been domestic violence, and if so which of the two was the perpetrator?
During the six weeks of trial, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp accused each other of physical and / or sexual abuse. The actress said Johnny Depp was becoming a “monster” under the influence of an explosive cocktail of drugs and alcohol and was not on detox. He would have raped with a bottle of alcohol in March 2015, a month after their wedding, in Australia where the actor was shooting episode 5 of Pirates. That day, Johnny Depp had his fingertip severed and was hospitalized. He says it’s because of the sparkle of a bottle thrown by Amber Heard. She says he injured himself. The actor, who has always denied raising his hand against the actress, said“mind-boggling” accusations and got himself presented as a victim of domestic violence.
“The heart of this case could have been the forum, but it is not,” said Jill Huntley Taylor, a forensic analyst, in the columns of the Washington Post. “(The heart of the matter) is whether or not there was abuse.”
Proceedings will resume this Wednesday in the early afternoon (French time), and a culprit could be named later in the day. But there is a third option: the jury may never reach an agreement. In that case, “it would all depend on what Amber Heard or Johnny Depp want to do for the rest of the proceedings,” according to U.S. Attorney Katherine Lizardo in an interview for Law & Crime Network.