Johnny Depp lawyers make final pitch to jurors in defamation case


By AGENCY

Actor Johnny Depp arrives for trial at a Fairfax County Courthouse on May 27, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo: AFP

Attorneys for Johnny Depp made their final arguments on Friday (May 27) in the widely watched defamation trial with ex-wife Amber Heard, telling jurors that Depp's career had been ruined by false accusations and appealing to them to restore his reputation.

The Pirates Of The Caribbean star, 58, sued Heard in Virginia for US$50mil and argued that she defamed him when she called herself "a public figure representing domestic abuse".

Heard, 36, countersued for US$100mil, saying Depp smeared her when his lawyer called her accusations a "hoax".

Depp has denied hitting Heard or any woman and said she was the one who turned violent in their relationship.

Attorney Camille Vasquez said Heard's allegations of abuse by Depp were "wild, over-the-top and implausible" and had ruined his reputation in Hollywood and among fans.

"We ask you to give Mr Depp his life back by telling the world Mr Depp is not the abuser Ms Heard says he is," Vasquez said.

"What is at stake in this trial is a man’s good name," she told jurors. "Even more than that, what is at stake is a man’s life."

Heard's attorneys will deliver their closing arguments late Friday before the case goes to the seven-person jury to begin deliberations.

Jurors got the case Friday afternoon, but were sent home after about two hours or deliberation. They will reconvene Tuesday after the holiday weekend.

Depp and Heard met in 2011 while filming The Rum Diary and wed in February 2015. Their divorce was finalised about two years later.

Over six weeks of proceedings, jurors have listened to recordings of the former couple's fights, seen graphic photos of a bloody finger and heard arguments about feces found in the couple's bed.

Depp said Heard threw a vodka bottle that cut off the top of his finger during an argument in 2015. Heard denied injuring Depp's finger and said Depp sexually assaulted her that night with a liquor bottle.

He also said he believed Heard or a friend left feces in the bed the morning after an argument on Heard's 30th birthday. Heard said it likely came from one of their dogs.

At the centre of the legal case is a December 2018 opinion piece by Heard in the Washington Post. The article never mentioned Depp by name, but his lawyer told jurors it was clear that Heard was referring to him.

Depp, once among Hollywood's biggest stars, said Heard's allegations cost him "everything". A new Pirates movie was put on hold, and Depp was replaced in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, a Harry Potter spinoff.

Heard's attorneys have argued that she told the truth and her opinion was protected free speech under the US Constitution's First Amendment. They said she also lost work opportunities in Hollywood because of Depp's accusations.

Depp lost a libel case less than two years ago against the Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a "wife beater". A London High Court judge ruled that he had repeatedly assaulted Heard.

Depp's lawyers filed the US case in Fairfax County, Virginia, because the Washington Post is printed there. The newspaper is not a defendant. – Reuters

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