What Will Happen to Amber Heard if Johnny Depp Wins His Defamation Trial?

A Virginia jury will decide whether Johnny Depp and Amber Heard will be held accountable for millions of dollars in damages in their defamation claims.

Seven jurors will decide whether Heard, 36, defamed Depp, 58, in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed piece in which she referred to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”

The jury must also decide whether she should be held liable for millions of dollars in damages.

“The jury is going to determine damages for both the claim and the counterclaim,” sources close to Heard’s legal team told The Post. “If the jury finds Amber was liable for Mr. Depp it would determine damages, if it found that Mr. Depp was liable for Amber’s counterclaims it makes a determination of damages.”

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The “Aquaman” actress, who dated Depp and was married to him for 15 months, is not facing any criminal charges and is only facing civil claims.

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star sued Heard for $50 million in defamation, saying she ruined his reputation and career, costing him tens of millions of dollars when she wrote the op-ed.

Although Heard did not name Depp in the essay, his attorneys argue that it nonetheless defamed him since it plainly referred to charges of domestic abuse made by his ex-wife when she filed for divorce and obtained a temporary restraining order against him in 2016.

 

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Depp denies ever physically harming Heard and claims she was the abusive partner in their relationship. Meanwhile, Heard has accused Depp of abusing her numerous times.

The actress subsequently filed $100 million in defamation counterclaims, claiming Depp was waging a “smear campaign” to damage her life.

For four weeks, the two have been battling it out in front of a jury in a Fairfax County Courthouse. The trial has been adjourned for one week.

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Closing statements are scheduled for May 27, and the jury might begin deliberating the fate of the estranged couple soon after.

According to a source close to Heard’s legal team, there is also a chance that the jury will be unconvinced by either side and decide that neither Depp nor Heard should be granted damages.

A Depp spokesperson confirmed, “Jury decides damages and yes it is possible that no damages are awarded.”

If the jury decides that Heard should not be held liable in Depp’s case, she will be able to reclaim her legal bills from Depp. According to the sources, the sum would be established by a judge at a later date.

However, if Depp is successful, it could have a “chilling effect,” discouraging future claimed victims from coming forward, according to Halim Dhanidina, a former California judge and current criminal defense attorney.

 

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“Any time a defamation lawsuit is successful, it has a chilling effect on speech,” Dhanidina said.

“There has always been a chilling effect for victims to come forward and speak out against institutions or entities or people with power because they feel like their world could come crashing down on them,” she continued.

If the hypothetical win also leads to a substantial money judgment awarded to Depp, “then I’m sure there are people out there who would think twice about making statements if those statements could expose them to legal liability,” Dhanidina said.

The former judge, on the other hand, stated that “we don’t want to create a world where people feel they can say whatever they want even if they know it’s not true.”

“A verdict will have a chilling effect one way or the other regardless of what the verdict is,” Dhanidina said. Stay tuned with us for more such content only on leedaily.com

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