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Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard arrived individually on the Fairfax County Circuit Court docket in Virginia on Tuesday morning for Day 1 of their much-anticipated US$50-million defamation trial.
Although the actors and former spouses each wore fits, the power across the courthouse was something however subdued, because the absolutely televised court docket proceedings shortly turned a media spectacle.
The court docket listening to is the most recent in a really public authorized battle of the divorced couple, with each Heard, 35, and Depp, 58, claiming to be victims of home violence. The preliminary court docket case started when Depp filed a $50-million defamation lawsuit over a Washington Put up op-ed penned by Heard in late 2018 about home abuse.
Heard didn’t point out Depp by title within the article, although in court docket paperwork he alleges his repute and profession had been nonetheless “devastated” consequently.
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Court docket proceedings started with opening statements from each actors’ legal professionals, with Depp’s lawyer Benjamin Chew talking first.
Chew informed Decide Penney S. Azcarate and the seven-member jury (plus 4 alternates) that Heard’s claims of graphic home violence have painted the Pirates of the Caribbean actor as a “villain.”
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard defamation trial: Heard claims Depp sexually assaulted her
“For almost 30 years, Mr. Depp constructed a repute as one of the crucial gifted actors in Hollywood, a revered artist whose title was related to success on the field workplace,” Chew informed the court docket. “Right this moment, his title is related to a lie, a false assertion uttered by his former spouse.”
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“Phrases matter. They paint an image in our thoughts,” he informed the court docket. “Phrases can evoke robust feelings and trigger irreparable hurt.”
Chew argued although Heard by no means named Depp within the Washington Put up op-ed, she didn’t should, because the article was printed two years after she had already accused Depp of abuse. Depp’s lawyer additionally claimed nobody “in 5 a long time” had beforehand accused the actor of violence or “being abusive of any variety with a lady.”
Chew informed the court docket that any proof Heard was a sufferer of home violence perpetrated by Depp will probably be proved “a lie.”
Camille Vasquez, additionally a lawyer for Depp, claimed “Ms. Heard took on the position of a lifetime, she couldn’t again down.”
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“She has been dwelling and respiration this lie for years now,” Vasquez mentioned. “She is getting ready to offer the efficiency of a lifetime on this trial.”
After a short break, Heard’s lawyer J. Ben Rottenborn delivered the defence’s opening statements.
Rottenborn learn your complete Washington Put up op-ed – headlined “I spoke up in opposition to sexual violence — and confronted our tradition’s wrath. That has to alter” – to the jury.
“Amber’s phrases on this article that wasn’t about Depp, wasn’t about her marriage, wasn’t about her relationship — was about life after that,” he mentioned. “It’s in regards to the freedom of speech. It’s not in regards to the cleaning soap opera that Depp will flip this case into. It’s not about who you want higher. It’s not even about whether or not you agree with the phrases that she wrote. It’s about her proper to talk them.”
“Amber did accuse Johnny of abuse,” Rottenborn mentioned. “That assertion is true. You don’t have to relive each intimate element of their marriage.”
“You don’t have to resolve what occurred on any particular person day of their marriage to find out that the First Modification protects that assertion as a result of it’s true,” he mentioned. “He needs you to overlook that. Don’t take the bait.”
Rottenborn informed the court docket it was Depp’s “personal unhealthy behaviour” that prompted his repute to endure.
One other lawyer for Heard, Elaine Bredehoft, additionally informed the court docket a couple of journey to Australia she claimed was a “three-day hostage scenario.” Bredehoft claimed Depp took eight to 10 ecstasy tablets in Australia earlier than he sexually assaulted Heard and “penetrates her with a liquor bottle.”
After a break for lunch, the primary witness took the stand – Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski.
She spoke about Depp’s childhood and claimed abuse from their dad and mom. She additionally informed the court docket she carried out duties as a “private supervisor” for Depp, and mentioned she nonetheless works together with her brother.
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Because the trial continues, jurors will hear from a number of potential witnesses, together with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, actor James Franco and Marvel WandaVision star Paul Bettany.
Franco and Musk had been introduced into the case when Depp accused each of getting an affair with Heard. Each Franco and Musk are on Heard’s witness checklist. Bettany, who had a number of non-public and disturbing textual content messages with Depp learn in court docket in 2020, will testify as a part of Depp’s crew.
Each Depp and Heard are additionally planning to take the stand in particular person on the trial.
Court docket proceedings are anticipated to final about six weeks with a jury verdict figuring out if Heard defamed Depp on the trial’s finish.
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