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Johnny Depp’s libel trial is on a week-long hiatus after the world listened to a parade of witnesses, including Amber Heard, testify in recent days.
Depp is trying to prove to a jury that the actress defamed him in an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post that alleged she was the victim of domestic and emotional abuse without specifically naming the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star. “, 58 years old.
Depp’s case is not a lay-out for his legal team, according to a leading entertainment attorney.
Daniel Gutenplan, who has represented clients on both sides of high-profile defamation cases, says Depp still has an “uphill battle” to win his case and obtain the $50 million judgment he is seeking.
‘Defamation plaintiffs’ have ‘uphill battle’
“Like most libel plaintiffs, Depp and his team have an uphill battle and struggle to prove the case because they have to prove, first, that everything said [in the op-ed and Heard’s testimony] is completely wrong,” the media, entertainment and intellectual property attorney told Fox News Digital.
“The Washington Post article in question, of course, does not mention Mr. Depp by name, although his camp will say – and I think it is a convincing argument – that a reasonable reader would assume that the article was written about Mr. Depp. But of course, not only does it not mention him. It also doesn’t mention specific examples of abuse or events. So it doesn’t say, ‘On this date, at this time or at this place, this thing He did this to me. It usually refers to being the victim of abuse,” the lawyer added.
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“Drill Every Little Hole” in Heard’s Testimony
Gutenplan, who is not involved in the Depp-Heard proceedings in Fairfax, Va., argued the week-long adjournment couldn’t have come at a better time for Depp and his legal team given the details. savages that have emerged. This gives Depp’s team ample time to prepare for cross-examination of Heard, 36.
“They’re going to poke every little hole in her testimony that they can, and they’re going to try to create so many inconsistencies that they’re going to (say) to the jury, ‘If she can lie to you and twist or change her story of those little ways, the whole testimony is polluted. You can’t believe anything,” Gutenplan added.
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Depp, upfront, said he was only bringing the $50 million libel suit against his ex-wife to “clear her name” and recoup the potential earnings he thought he had lost in Hollywood due to the Heard’s allegations.
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Gutenplan noted that another challenge in the case is that the two central characters are “playing roles for a living”.
“Another challenge for the case”
“Their [Depp team’s] The strategy has been, as you saw in open court, to spread as much mud as possible, to discredit Ms. Heard as much as possible, and that will be what the cross-examination will focus on, ”said Gutenplan, a partner at Los Angeles-based Enenstein Pham & Glass predicts.
“That’s what they’re going to ask the jury to believe. They’re going to poke these tiny pinholes in the testimony and then try to separate them as big as they can and hope the jurors will frankly think she was just that. which is another challenge for the case is that we are dealing with two people playing roles for a living. So, “Where does the truth begin and where does it end?” becomes much more difficult.”
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Gutenplan said it would be unwise to draw conclusions at this stage of the trial, which would be like “looking in the mirror when you’ve half done a haircut.”
Depp’s legal team ‘knows how to judge this case’
“The truth, as we know, is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation. So if Ms. Heard can establish that she was abused – even if we assume for the sake of argument that she was speaking of Johnny Depp – then he can’t win his case”, explained the Gutenplan.
He added that Depp’s legal team “knows how to judge this case” because “they know where they are weak, they know where they are strong.”
“[Heard’s] direct testimony on the last day and a half in court, I found it compelling,” Gutenplan said last week in the abuse case.
“I mean, we’re talking serious stuff here. Not that all domestic abuse or abuse of any kind is not serious. But I think at least her story definitely rises to another level.”
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“Burden of Proof”
“So let’s remember the burden of proof here,” Gutenplan added. “Johnny is the plaintiff. He has to prove by a preponderance of evidence and convince the jurors that literally none of this happened. It’s one thing if the jurors think Ms Heard is embellishing some of it or maybe That it doesn’t quite happen the way it did. But to win, he’d have to convince a jury that it’s all fabricated, that it’s all made up.
During her initial testimony, Heard described an alleged sexual assault that took place during a three-day fight between the couple in Australia in 2015.
Depp’s team vehemently denied ever sexually assaulting Heard.
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A spokesperson for Depp said in a statement that Heard “indeed delivered the performance of a lifetime during his direct questioning.”
“While Ms. Heard’s stories have continued to develop new practical details, Mr. Depp’s memories have remained exactly the same throughout the painful six years since his first allegations were made,” said the carrier. word. “Her truth – the truth – is the same regardless of the environment in which it was presented. Heard has now attempted to pass off as fact throughout his convoluted testimony.”
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A cross-examination of Heard’s claims will begin when the court reconvenes May 16 at 9 a.m. ET.
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