Updated: Sep 30, 2022
After just over a dozen hours of deliberation over three days a seven-person jury, comprised of 5 men and 2 women, found Amber Heard did indeed defame her former husband Johnny Depp. The Pirate of the Caribbean star was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million for punitive damages.
Depp alleged Heard had defamed him in an op-ed published in the Washington Post where she described the abuse she suffered, writing she was "a public figure representing domestic abuse". Depp claimed the op-ed was aimed directly at him. The Jury apparently agreed.
Heard countersued Depp, alleging he defamed her with malicious intent publicly three times. The jury found only one of those allegations to be true. The Aquaman star was awarded punitive damages of $2 million dollars for statements published by Depp's former attorney, Adam Waldman. The jury believed Heard's allegations Waldman was acting on behalf of Depp when he stated publicly her allegations of domestic abuse were a "hoax".
Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350 thousand dollars, meaning the $5 million dollars punitive penalty awarded to Depp was immediately reduced by Judge Penney Azcarate, lowering the award for Depp from $15 million to $10.35 million dollars.
Heard did win one of her 3 countersuits, and the jury found public statements by former Depp attorney Adam Waldman calling Heard's accusations of domestic abuse against Depp a hoax were defamatory...
For that Heard was awarded 2 million dollars.
The Hollywood couple divorced in 2017, after what was undoubtedly a torturous marriage.
Vicious allegations of physical violence, including sexual assault, were made by both sides.
The trial lasted six weeks. Broadcast live on every platform known in the 21st century, it was viewed billions of times.
The 24 days of the trial included hours of bitter arguing recorded on both video and audio made by both parties. There was even body cam video provided by police who responded to investigate allegations of abuse by Depp from Heard where no signs of abuse or property damage was found.
Both sides claimed physical and mental abuse by the other. Witnesses and experts testified for both sides, often contradicting each other.
In the end, Depp's team provided a more convincing argument to the jury, Depp winning by most accounts in the court of public opinion long before the jury made it official.
Depp was subject to very tough questioning by Heard's team while giving testimony. In the end, apparently, the jury found him more believable.
Heard on the other hand was dogged by her previous testimony.
For example, she claimed she donated her $7 million dollar divorce settlement to charity, something she clearly had not done. Her insisting that pledging to do so was the same as making the donation under cross-examination by Depp lawyer Camille Vasquez that seemed to go on forever hurt her credibility.
Heard also claimed she received serious injuries inflicted by Depp, including bruises, cuts and even a possible broken nose. Those allegations carried little weight after Depp's lawyers presented photos and videos of Heard taken the day after the alleged assaults took place yet showed no sign of injuries.
At one point Heard's team said the reason no bruises were visible was because Heard was wearing makeup. Her team even mentioned the brand Heard used.
The company that manufactures the named makeup came out and publicly said that particular product wasn't even being produced at the time of the alleged assault, hurting Heard's credibility even further.
Testimony like reports of feces on Johnny Depp's bedroom pillow didn't help Heard's case either.
Depp and Heard both released statements after the verdict was read:
JOHNNY DEPP'S STATEMENT
"Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.
All in the blink of an eye.
False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.
My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought.
From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.
I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world. I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.
I wish to acknowledge the noble work of the Judge, the jurors, the court staff and the Sheriffs who have sacrificed their own time to get to this point, and to my diligent and unwavering legal team who did an extraordinary job in helping me to share the truth.
The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun.
Veritas numquam perit.
Truth never perishes."
AMBER HEARD'S STATEMENT
"The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband.
I'm even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.
I believe Johnny's attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.
I'm sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American -- to speak freely and openly."