Johnny Depp's Libel Trial Comes to an End

Illustration for article titled Johnny Depps Libel Trial Comes to an End
Image: Stuart C. Wilson (Getty Images)

Johnny Depp’s libel trial against News Group Newspapers, publisher of U.K. tabloid The Sun, concludes today in London’s High Court. Depp sued The Sun for calling him a “wife-beater” in an April 2018 headline, which The Sun’s publisher claims was based on 14 credible allegations of abuse by ex-wife Amber Heard.

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For the past three weeks, Depp’s lawyers have argued that Heard was the violent one in their marriage, not Depp, and have used testimony from Depp’s long-term employees to support an image of Depp as an “unusually kind man,” to borrow a phrase from Tara Roberts, Depp’s Bahamas estate manager who also testified in support of her boss. News Group Newspaper’s barrister Sasha Wass QC focused on presenting the court testimony to validate Heard’s accusations of abuse against her former husband while arguing that Depp “created a misogynistic persona of [Heard] as the stereotype of a nagging woman,” as she told the court in her closing arguments yesterday.

On Tuesday, Depp entered the court with his hands positioned in a “gesture for prayer,” according to Page Six.

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Part of Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne’s argument hinged on an instance last week in court, when Heard admitted to “striking Johnny” on one occasion in March 2015 at their Los Angeles penthouse. In his closing argument, Sherborne maintained that because Heard made one “straightforward, unambiguous, unequivocal admission of hitting” Depp, she was the one who was abusive, and her allegations of abuse are essentially nullified. “Her physical violence towards him, her starting physical violence as she admits, make her the domestic abuser, not him,” he said according to The BBC. 

Last Tuesday, Heard testified was attempting to protect her sister, Whitney Henriquez, from Depp, because she believed he was going to push her down the stairs. “I had heard that he had pushed a former girlfriend, I think it was Kate Moss, down the stairs,” Heard told the court. “And I thought of that at the moment and I reacted in defense of her [Whitney].” A few days later, Henriquez testified that Depp was violent with Heard.

In a written document submitted to the court, Depp’s lawyers claimed that the April 2018 Sun article placed the actor “into the same category of Harvey Weinstein and invoked #MeToo and Time’s Up movements just so no reader is in any doubt as to the seriousness of what Mr Depp has done or how much society should condemn him,” Deadline reports.

“He has never hit a woman in his entire life. Period, full stop, nada,” Sherborne told the court, “It is not just a Southern gentleman thing. It is also because he was subject to domestic abuse by his mother,” Reuters reports. Sherborne also claimed that the misogynistic texts messages sent by Depp were “exaggerated,” and therefore “should not be taken literally.” “He may use poetic license, he may use metaphor, but he never ever says that he hit Miss Heard,” he said.

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Though Sherborne will finish his closing arguments today, Judge Justice Nicol is expected to take a few weeks to come to his decision. Jezebel will continue to follow this case.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

mortal-dictata
Mortal Dictata

Fucking hell that closing argument session was just a step by step guide as to why most women who are abused don’t come forward. One minute the lawyer is criticising her for going to court for a restraining order as a “publicity stunt” yet then criticising her for not getting law enforcement involved as “curious”, then it’s her fault for not having the right amount of bruises, then it’s unfair to point out in the one case police did get involved they couldn’t give the correct time of arrival and departure let alone properly investigate DV, then it’s her fault for not having gotten Depp to hurt her publicly and therefore must be set up, then he blames her for recording him secretly which shows malicious intent, then he’s playing the “she’s not a real victim” card, then because Depp wasn’t in control of every single thing she did he can’t really have been controlling, then because he only hit objects he can’t really have punched someone (the lawyer actually made jokes about this in court), and then his violent texts and misogynistic comments are just jokes. They can’t actually disprove the allegations so they just attack the character over and over even if it’s massively contradictory and indirect circumstantial that plays to opinion and not material fact (like proof Heard must’ve wrote a letter to DHS because a word was written the American way as though most young people in Britain use a mix of both British and American spellings now because of Americanisation of the language online, and this very text editor just told me I spelt that big word wrong).

The depressing thing is that because of bullshit like the above many of the teenage girls who were photoed outside the court this morning defending Depp and cheering this lawyer will likely be abused in their lives and when they try to get justice will face that type of lawyer who says those exact same things as to why they weren’t really abused and it’s just “women out to get men”.