After One Last Day Of Brutal Arguments, The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard Trial Is In The Jury’s Hands

At stake are potential payouts that could reach as high as $100 million as well as the reputations of two of the biggest stars in the world.

After six weeks of vicious allegations, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s opposing defamation lawsuits are now officially in the hands of a jury.

At stake are potential payouts that could reach as high as $100 million as well as the reputations of two of the biggest stars in the world, both of whom have already been deeply tarred as a result of the high-profile trial that exposed the most sordid parts of their yearslong relationship for the world to see.

Speaking to the seven jurors in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court, and to an audience watching on television and online around the globe, lawyers for both actors presented their closing arguments on Friday — six years to the day from when Heard was granted a restraining order against Depp, now her ex-husband, citing physical abuse.

Depp’s team argued the Pirates of the Caribbean star had had his life ruined by false accusations of abuse by Heard, which she repeated in a 2018 Washington Post opinion piece over which he is suing. In the piece, Heard didn’t name her ex-husband but said she was a victim.

Depp attorney Benjamin Chew said his client had been “canceled by Hollywood” and that his career was left in ruins as a result of Heard’s claims.

“The case for Mr. Depp has never been about money, nor is it about punishing Ms. Heard,” Chew said. “It is about the damage to reputation and freeing him from the prison in which he has lived for the last six years.”

Painting her as an actor playing “the role of her lifetime,” Depp’s attorneys accused Heard of putting on a show for the jury and “sobbing without tears” — a claim that caused Heard to wince in visible disgust.

“She came into this courtroom prepared to give the performance of her life and she gave it,” Depp attorney Camille Vasquez told the jury.

As part of her evidence, Vasquez showed photos of Heard to the jury that she said did not contain any evidence of physical injury and played audio of Heard admitting she had struck Depp during one of their arguments.

While actor Ellen Barkin testified that Depp had been jealous and controlling when they had dated in the 1990s, his team noted that Heard had been unable to produce any other of his former partners to testify that he had abused them.

Depp supports the #MeToo movement, his lawyers said, but only for “true survivors of abuse.”

“Amber Heard is not a true victim. And Mr. Depp is certainly not an abuser,” Chew said. “Again, nobody has come out of the woodwork to say, ‘Me too.’”

Instead, they said Heard had consistently verbally, physically, and emotionally abused Depp during their relationship.

“There is an abuser in this courtroom, but it is not Mr. Depp,” Vasquez said, “and there is a victim of domestic abuse in this courtroom, but it is not Ms. Heard.”

Conversely, Heard’s legal team seemed to concede it was possible the jury would find the pair had been abusive to each other but, they added, for Depp to succeed in his case he would need to prove he had never been remotely abusive on a single occasion — a claim they said was preposterous.

“If Amber was abused by Mr. Depp even one time, then she wins. One time,” said Heard attorney Benjamin Rottenborn. “And we're not just talking about physical abuse. We're talking about emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse.”

Heard’s team portrayed Depp as a man who lashed out at her while on extreme benders, showing pictures to the jury of drugs and Depp passed out, as well as audio of him talking incoherently while traveling on a plane. They described a difference between “Mr. Depp the man and Mr. Depp the monster.”

They also displayed text messages Depp wrote about drowning Heard and wishing that “that cunt’s rotting corpse is decomposing in the fucking trunk of a Honda civic” — words he has said were dark jokes.

“Ladies and gentlemen, these words are a window into the heart and mind of America's favorite pirate,” Rottenborn said, referring to his role as Captain Jack Sparrow. “This is the real Johnny Depp.”

Heard’s lawyers also said Depp was trying to “trick” the jury by implying she had to be “perfect.”

"Think about the message that Mr. Depp and his attorneys are sending to Amber and, by extension, to every victim of domestic abuse everywhere," Rottenborn said. "If you didn't take pictures, it didn't happen. If you did take pictures, they're fake. If you didn't tell your friends, you're lying. If you did tell your friends, they're part of the hoax."

Depp is suing for $50 million, while Heard has countersued for $100 million, arguing that a Depp lawyer’s claims to the Daily Mail that she was staging a “hoax” were defamatory.

The lengthy civil trial has transfixed media and observers around the world. At one point on Friday, more than 1.1 million people were streaming a single YouTube channel providing a live feed of the closing arguments.

The vitriol against Heard in particular by Depp supporters on social media has been fervent.

On Thursday, Heard testified for the final time, describing how she had found the hatred to which she had been subjected to be “agonizing.”

“I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day,” Heard said. “People want to kill me and they tell me so every day.”

In his final testimony, Depp said he had found the experience of listening to Heard’s “heinous accusations” to be “insane.”

"I don't think anyone enjoys having to split themselves open and tell the truth, but there are times when one simply has to because it's gotten out of control,” Depp said.

He described Heard’s allegations as “horrible, ridiculous, humiliating, ludicrous, painful, savage, unimaginably brutal, cruel, and all false — all false."

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