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After six weeks of trial, the defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard came to an end this week as closing arguments were made on Friday (27 May), and jurors entered deliberation.
As a verdict is expected in the early days of next week, here are the potential outcomes if the jurors go in Depp’s favour.
Depp (58) is suing his ex-wife Heard (36) for $50 Million over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018 in which she claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse. Heard then counter-sued for $100 Million.
After a 15-month marriage, the pair were divorced in 2017, for which Heard received $7 Million, which she pledged to donate to charity. During the divorce settlement, Heard sought a restraining order against Depp, citing abuse, which he denied. Heard’s ghost-written article was published a year later, over which Depp is now suing her over damage to his career and reputation.
The trial has been at the height of public interest since commencing in April, with some moments going viral, like Supermodel Kate Moss’ streamed testimony in support of her ex-boyfriend, Depp-representative Camille Vasquez’ brutal cross-examination of Heard, and some bizarre responses from physician Dr David Spiegel regarding Marlon Brando’s mortality.
If a verdict were to tip in his favour, Depp would receive the $50 Million he is suing for, however the jury could decide he is due more or less. Because this is a civil case, neither party is in danger of being imprisoned or receiving a criminal charge. There is also the possibility that the jury will find neither side reputable, and declare no one will receive damages.
Whether Depp would actually receive these damages upon victory is questionable, as it’s unlikely Heard has the funds to make such a payment. If this is the case, Depp will have a ‘Pyrrhic Victory’, in which a win will be more symbolic than tangible, doing more for his reputation than his pockets. Already he has seen a comeback from any potential defilings caused by Heard’s op-ed, as it is rumoured Depp will join Winona Ryder in a sequel to Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice.
Regardless of the outcome, and regardless of whether justice is due served, a loss for Heard could do irrefutable damage to survivors of abuse, and how they are viewed by the public and within the justice system. In a trial of this nature, both in its level of exposure and case content, any outcome would be difficult to swallow for many.
Discussing the trial, Halim Dhanidina, a criminal defence attorney and former judge told The New York Post: ‘A verdict will have a chilling effect one way or the other regardless of what the verdict is.’
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