Johnny Depp’s defamation case against Amber Heard continues this week in Fairfax County, Virginia, shedding light on their turbulent relationship while sparking conversations and debate about domestic violence, mental health, substance addiction, and other concerns.
Depp is suing his ex-wife, Amber Heard, for $50 million in retaliation for an op-ed she published for the Washington Post in 2018 on her experiences as a domestic abuse survivor.
Though Heard never referenced Depp by name, his attorneys say that allusions to Depp (and Heard’s past public abuse allegations) are obvious, and that the piece harmed Depp’s career and reputation. Heard has filed a countersuit for $100 million, claiming that Depp and his legal team defamed her by labeling her charges a fake.
According to Dr. Jill Huntley Taylor, the #MeToo movement could factor in, and may give Heard an advantage. With more voices calling out pervasive harassment and abuse in Hollywood and beyond, “jurors have shown a greater tendency to defer to women who allege to be victims of abuse,” she says.
“Jurors are now less likely to engage in the victim-blaming of the past; this advantages [Heard], generally.” However, Depp’s case is “built around the same narrative as Heard’s,” Taylor contends. “He is not only disputing her public claims to be the victim of abuse, but he is claiming to be the victim of abuse himself.
Taylor expects the volatile audio recordings between Depp and Heard to feature in Depp’s team’s closing argument. “One point I expect to hear from the Depp team in closing is that with the hours and hours of secret recordings, there are no recordings of abuse,” she says. “Jurors also heard Ms. Heard’s own voice saying harmful things. She has admitted some level of abuse. It helps his credibility to acknowledge imperfections and not to run away from his use of drugs or admit the negative connotation of the language used in texts and recordings.”