The jury in the multi-million dollar libel trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard has been sent to consider its verdicts.
Heard, who claims Depp physically and sexually assaulted her, is being sued by the Hollywood actor for $50 million over an article she wrote in The Washington Post in 2018 in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic violence”.
Heard, 36, has sued her ex-husband for $100million after his attorney called his claims a hoax.
See the latest updates from the court as the closing arguments take place – follow the updates
The Pirates of the Caribbean star, 58, insists he never hit Heard and that she made up the abuse allegations to gain an advantage in the divorce proceedings.
At the end of the six-week trial in Virginia on Friday, Depp’s legal team asked the jury to “return Mr. Depp to life” by finding that Heard had committed defamation.
“This case for Mr. Depp was never about the money,” said Depp’s attorney, Benjamin Chew.
“It’s about Mr. Depp’s reputation and his release from the prison he’s lived in for six years.”
Mr Chew also said: ‘We implore you to give him back his name, his reputation and his career.
Another of Depp’s attorneys, Camille Vasquez, said that while Heard’s first-person article didn’t mention the actor’s name, it was clearly referring to him.
She told jurors that behind the scenes of Depp and Heard’s relationship, things were very different.
“There is an assailant in this courtroom, but it is not Mr. Depp”
“There is an abuser in this courtroom, but it is not Mr. Depp. And there is a victim of domestic violence in this courtroom, but it is not Ms. Heard,” said she declared.
Heard’s attorney, Benjamin Rottenborn, said the lawsuit is not about Depp’s reputation, but part of an ongoing smear campaign launched by Depp after Heard filed for divorce.
“In Mr. Depp’s world, you don’t leave Mr. Depp,” he said. “If you do, he will launch a worldwide campaign of humiliation against you.”
He led the jury back to the testimony of expert psychologist Dr Dawn Hughes, who tested Heard and said there had been a “high degree” of violence against the actress.
She said the effect of the “coercive control” was “drastic” and there was an “imbalance of power” and “intimidation”.
Dr Hughes told the court that Heard suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of abuse.
Mr Rottenborn said it was ‘ridiculous’ that Depp was trying to ‘trick’ the jury into thinking he was never violent towards Heard.
“It’s not about who is the better spouse,” the attorney said. “It’s not about whether you think Ms. Heard may have abused Mr. Depp. That’s not the case.”
“It’s time to tell Mr Depp that this was his last chance”
Mr Rottenborn added: “Time to tell Mr Depp this was his last chance. Tell him to get on with his life. Tell him to let Amber get on with hers.
“This lawsuit is about more than Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard. It’s about free speech. Defend him. Protect him. And deny Mr. Depp’s allegations against Amber.”
Another of Heard’s attorneys, Elaine Bredehoft, said the statements made by Depp’s attorney, Adam Waldman – which is why Heard is suing Depp – “took on a life of their own.”
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Ms Bredehoft said they ‘followed her everywhere’ and Heard lost several job opportunities.
The Aquaman movie was Heard’s “opportunity”, his “blockbuster”, Ms Bredehoft said, but when it was released, “it all stopped”.
She reminded the jury of previous expert testimony that predicted the actress’ career trajectory, saying she could have made as much as $50 million in later years “instead of her star being completely extinct”.
Ms Bredehoft said the jury also had to consider ’emotional distress damage’ and said it was ‘even more extreme’.
‘Every time she’s called a liar…it makes her relive it all,’ Ms Bredehoft said, adding that the ordeal has ‘destroyed’ Heard’s life and ‘consumed her’.
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