After a six-week-long trial, the verdict in the defamation lawsuit that Johnny Depp brought against his ex-wife Amber Heard was announced amid a media circus at the Fairfax, VA courthouse, while it was streamed live at CourtTV.com.
Heard failed to prove her case against Depp, while jurors awarded $10 million in compensatory damages plus $5 million in punitive damages to the actor who proved that the actress lied about him in statements that indicated he abused her during their marriage.
Judge Penney Azcarate said the verdict would be announced in court at 3 p.m., but she sent the jury back to fill in the amount of any monetary awards on the jury forms.
The judge said she will reduce the $5 million punitive damage award to $350,000, which is a statutory cap under Virginia state law.
The jury ruled against Heard on all but one count, in which she was awarded $2 million in compensation and zero in punitive damages, leaving her owing Depp $8.35 million.
Jurors ruled for Depp on three counts and for Heard on one count.
The jury began deliberations Friday afternoon, after six weeks of dramatic, disturbing and sometimes graphic testimony that laid bare the troubled marriage between the stars.
Both Depp and Heard testified twice. The jury also heard extensive recordings attorneys said displayed violent behavior and saw text messages, including between Depp and fellow actor Paul Bettany, that discussed substance use and contained obscene language.
Supermodel Kate Moss also appeared via video link, adding to the spectacle as broadcast cameras in the courtroom captured every twist to an increasingly rapt audience as fans weighed in on social media and lined up overnight for coveted courtroom seats.
Depp sued Heard in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia for $50 million over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.
Heard countersued for $100 million, claiming Depp’s attorney defamed her by calling her abuse allegations a hoax. During the trial, Heard’s sister testified to seeing Depp strike her, and a friend testified about seeing her cuts and bruises.
Closing arguments were delivered Friday. By the time the court broke for lunch, jurors had listened to attorneys for both Depp and Heard — who then had a combined 45 minutes to present rebuttal closings later Friday afternoon.
The case went to the jury later in the day, for the final stage in what has been six weeks of courtroom drama that peeled back the curtain on the stars’ troubled marriage.
With both actors accusing the other of ruining their lives, the outcome came to be seen as a referendum on who the jury found more credible and believable: Depp or Heard.
Heard, 36, also filed a countersuit against Depp, 58, seeking $100 million in damages and saying his legal team falsely accused her of fabricating claims against Depp.
Jurors began deliberating on Friday before taking a break over the holiday weekend. They returned to the courthouse on Tuesday. Reading of the verdict was momentarily delayed after the judge found the jurors didn’t finish completing the forms. After reviewing the jury forms, Judge Penney Azcarate ordered the seven members to return to decide a set number for damages.
Depp wasn’t present in the courtroom, but Heard was. Both testified and were central presences during the six-week trial.