The jurors discussed their first full day at Johnny Depp$50 million in defamation trial against Amber Heard On Tuesday, they posted a question to the judge about how to balance the headline in Heard’s Washington Post op ed.
“I spoke out against sexual violence – and faced the wrath of our culture. That must change,” reads the title of the online version of the December 2018 article.
Judge Benny Azcaret said jurors are questioning whether they should consider whether the headline was defamatory, or whether that should be linked to “the content of the statement, everything in the editorial.”
“I think the confusion came into this particular phrase because the phrase in question is an editorial title, so I think they’re confused as to whether this is the entire article or the title is the statement,” she said. “Obviously the title is the statement.”
In jury verdict forms, the title is one of three statements a jury must make in deciding whether to issue a verdict for Depp. The seven jurors will also have to decide whether the statements in the editorial’s content are defamatory. One of the statements is, “Two years later, I became a public figure of domestic violence, and I felt the full force of our culture’s anger toward women who speak up.” The other statement is, “It would have been nice to see, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
Heard’s legal team noted that Depp was not mentioned in the editorial or the headline, but his legal team argued that it was clear to readers who his ex-wife was referring to in the article.
While the content of Heard’s article referred only to domestic violence, and did not specify whether it was physical or emotional, the title went a step further in its claim of sexual violence.
During the trial, Heard alleged that Depp sexually assaulted her during an argument in March 2016, but Depp’s legal team spent a significant amount of time trying to discredit that claim.
While her legal team noted that she did not write the headline into an editorial — as a Washington Post editor did — Depp’s side focused on the fact that she posted the article on Twitter without contesting its title.
Heard has also disputed the $100 million, and the jury is debating her allegations that she was defamed in three different cases, including remarks made by Depp’s attorney.