The much-anticipated US$50-million defamation trial between actors and former spouses Johnny Depp and Amber Heard began Monday.
The court hearing will be the latest in a very public legal battle of the divorced couple, with both Heard, 35, and Depp, 58, claiming to be victims of domestic violence. The initial court case began when Depp filed a $50-million defamation lawsuit over a Washington Post op-ed penned by Heard in late 2018 about domestic abuse.
Heard did not mention Depp by name in this article, though in court documents he alleges his reputation and career were still “devastated” as a result.
Heard’s $100-million countersuit against Depp is still looming.
According to Deadline, Virginia courts intend to select a jury by the end of the day. Opening arguments are set to begin tomorrow in front of Virginia Judge Penney Azcarate.
Ahead of the trial, Heard released a statement on social media, saying she will be “offline for the next several weeks.”
“As you may know, I’ll be in Virginia where I face my ex-husband Johnny Depp in court,” the Aquaman star wrote.
Speaking of her Washington Post op-ed, she wrote, “I never named him, rather I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power.”
“I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny,” Heard wrote.
She added she has “always maintained a great love for Johnny” and said the legal battles have “caused great pain to have to live out the details of our past life together in front of the world.”
Heard concluded her statement, saying, “I recognize the ongoing support I’ve been fortunate to receive throughout these years, and in these coming weeks I will be leaning on it more than ever.”
The trial is expected to last approximately six weeks and the proceedings will be televised.
Jurors will hear from several potential witnesses, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, actor James Franco and Marvel WandaVision star Paul Bettany.
Franco and Musk were brought into the case when Depp accused both of having an affair with Heard. Both Franco and Musk are on Heard’s witness list. Bettany, who had several private and disturbing text messages with Depp read in court in 2020, will testify as part of Depp’s team.
It is also unclear how a former London-based libel case involving Depp — where a judge found “overwhelming evidence” Depp had assaulted Heard repeatedly during their five-year relationship — will come into play during the American trial.
According to The New York Times, lawyers for Heard attempted to convince Azcarate to embrace the British court findings, though this was denied. The judge cited the reason as being that Heard was not a defendant in this case (rather, it was Depp vs. British tabloid The Sun) and that Depp was not tried by jury in England.
Since the beginning of the couple’s public legal battles, Depp, too, has alleged he was the victim of domestic violence, claiming that among other things, Heard physically abused him and defecated in his bed.
Depp previously resigned upon request from the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise, where he portrayed the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
Both Depp and Heard are planning to take the stand in person at their new trial.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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