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The judge presiding over Johnny Depp's $50 million ($AUD 70.4m, £40m) defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard has denied the Aquaman star's motion to toss out the case.
Judge Penny Azcarate told the court that sufficient evidence had been presented by Depp’s team to see the trial continue.
After Judge Azcarate handed down her ruling, Depp was seen hugging his lawyers over the small legal victory.
Heard's motion to toss the case out of court is a legal formality after the plaintiff wraps their case in a suit such as this, with the motion's aim to assure certain appeal rights for the defence if needed.
While the motion was a formality, it was expected that Judge Azcarate would deny the it.
The judge handed down her ruling without the jury present.
As she denied motions put forward by Heard's defence team, Judge Azcarate revealed she would be taking one of three claims filed in the motion 'under advisement'.
"Last night, I reviewed all the evidence submitted in this matter," Judge Azcarate told the court.
"As to the second and third alleged defamatory statements... I view the evidence in light most favourable to the plaintiff."
The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation following a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, which was headlined: "I spoke up against sexual violence - and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change."
While Heard didn't name Depp in the article, it was 'reasonably inferred' that she was talking about her former husband.
Depp has filed his suit over three statements in the article: the op-ed headline, how Heard described herself as 'a public figure representing domestic abuse', and the third was when she wrote she 'had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse'.
After Depp's team rested its case this afternoon, @LawCrimeNetwork received a statement from his spokesperson. It reads in part, "We stand confident in the future of the case and for the truth to be continued to be shared."#JohnnyDepp #AmberHeard @LawCrimeNetwork pic.twitter.com/0kZy8cyD99— Sierra Gillespie (@sierragillespie) May 3, 2022
As Depp's legal team rests, the judge claimed that there is currently enough evidence to satisfy Depp's defamation claims against his ex-wife.
"There is evidence in the case that a jury could weigh that the statements were made by the defendant, that the statements were about the plaintiff, that the statement was published, that the statement is false and the defendant made the statement knowing it to be false or the defendant made it so recklessly as to amount to a wilful disregard of the truth," Judge Azcarate said.
On Tuesday (May 3), the actor's legal team rested their case after 13 days of testimony.
The trial continues, with Heard expected to take the stand in the coming days.