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While support for Johnny Depp has spiked since the start of his defamation trial against Amber Heard, a legal expert has said it will have no impact on the outcome of the case.
Social media has seen an outpouring of support for the Pirates of the Caribbean star ever since the trial kicked off in Fairfax, Virginia last month.
The 58-year-old actor filed the lawsuit against his ex-wife in response to a 2018 op-ed in which she described herself as 'a public figure representing domestic abuse', with his lawyers arguing it caused damage to his personal and professional reputation.
Depp is seeking $50 million damages, and Heard has since filed a countersuit asking for $100 million.
While some have said Depp has won in terms of ‘public opinion’, entertainment litigator and defamation expert Daniel Gutenplan, a partner at Enenstein Pham & Glass, said it ‘frankly means nothing for the case’.
Speaking on a recent episode of the People Every Day podcast, he said: “But it gives you an idea of how the public is signing on this,” adding that Depp’s ‘reputation and his career has been irreparably tarnished because of this, these allegations, these incidents that have come to light’.
Gutenplan continued: "Anyone in this world would love to have $50 million, but I think the case is bigger than that. I think it's a case and a war on public opinion…
“As much as he'd like to go get money in that pot of gold at the end of the lawsuit, I think he also has been taking this case all the way because he's trying to regain his image in the court of public opinion."
The defamation expert also spoke to People about the case last month, describing how it’s a difficult battle for Depp and his legal team.
"Defamation is very hard to prove," he said. "First and foremost, truth is an absolute defence to any defamatory statement. So regardless of the alleged defamatory statement, if a defendant can establish that it is true, the defence is going to win."
He went on to highlight the fact that Heard’s Washington Post op-ed never directly named the actor, and that it ‘doesn't detail any specific alleged events or any specific conduct’.
"It can't be based on opinion. And that's where a lot of defamation plaintiffs get in trouble,” explained Gutenplan.
The case is set to continue on Monday, 16 May, at which point Heard will continue with her testimony and face cross-examination by Depp's team.
The trial has been on a week-long hiatus as Fairfax County Circuit Judge Penney Azcarate, who is presiding over the case, was said to have a previous engagement at a conference until Thursday, 12 May.
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