Johnny Depp’s $50M defamation trial against Amber Heard begins in Virginia

Johnny Depp attends the red carpet of the movie "Puffins" during the 19th Alice Nella Città 2021 at Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome. File Photo by Rocco Spaziani/UPI

April 11 (UPI) — Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against Amber Heard related to her accusations of domestic violence against him started Monday in a Virginia court.

Depp, 58, filed the $50 million lawsuit against his “The Rum Diary” co-star and ex-wife Heard, 35, after she published a 2018 op-ed in the Washington Post claiming that she was a victim of domestic violence though didn’t name him. Heard is countersuing Depp for $100 million.

The trial, which is being presented before Chief Judge Penney Azcarate, is expected to take as long as six weeks.

In 2018, Depp had filed a libel lawsuit against the parent company of The Sun after the British tabloid called him a “wife-beater” in a headline.

Heard had obtained a temporary restraining order during the former couple’s 2016 divorce proceedings in which she first accused Depp of assault.

Heard had testified for the tabloid during the headline-making trial, which Depp lost in 2020, along with subsequent appeals. That case required The Sun to show that Heard’s claims were true, which the British judge said could be “proved to the civil standard.”

However, the case filed in Fairfax County, where the Washington Post is printed, has notable differences from the first round in the Depp-Heard defamation battles — including that Depp is facing off with Heard directly rather than suing the Washington Post.

Since Heard is now a party to the case, she has had to comply with the court’s discovery rules which require the sharing of information and evidence to be presented at trial. It is also a jury trial, unlike the case in the British court.

The court could see testimony from big names including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and actors James Franco and Paul Bettany.

Depp has denied Heard’s claims of abuse against him and has previously claimed that Heard or one of her friends defecated in their bed during a fight with him as images were revealed of him with a severed fingertip.

“The op-ed’s clear implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser is categorically and demonstrably false. Mr. Depp never abused Ms. Heard. Her allegations against him were false when they were made in 2016. They were part of an elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career,” the lawsuit reads.

“Ms. Heard is not a victim of domestic abuse; she is a perpetrator. Ms. Heard violently abused Mr. Depp, just as she was caught and arrested for violently abusing her former domestic partner.”

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