Amber Heard-Johnny Depp Trial

Jury returns with question in Depp-Heard trial

Actress Amber Heard departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 27, 2022. (Getty Images)

Tuesday, the jury in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's high-profile defamation trial returned with a question as they continued deliberations in the high-profile case.

When determining whether Heard defamed her ex-husband by characterizing herself in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed as "a public figure representing domestic abuse," the seven-member panel was uncertain about one of the eight questions it must answer.

The question was whether they believed the op-ed headline, which stated "I spoke out against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath," to be inaccurate.

Judge Penney Azcarate informed the court in Fairfax, Virginia, just before 2:00 p.m., that the jury was debating whether the question pertained only to the title or the entire opinion piece.

She stated that she would tell the jury only to evaluate the article's headline, not the entire piece.

The judge stated, "The statement is not the entire op-ed; it is merely the headline."

In addition to the title, jurors have been asked to determine whether two sentences in Heard's opinion piece defamed the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor.

In the first paragraph of her op-ed, Heard stated, "Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and I felt the full force of our culture's wrath."

The "Aquaman" actress writes in the second piece, "I had the rare opportunity to observe in real time how institutions protect men accused of abuse."

According to the jury's verdict form, the jury must determine if the headline and excerpts were about Depp if they are false if each has a "defamatory implication," and if Heard intended to defame her ex-husband.

Jurors must also determine whether Heard behaved with "actual malice," which requires "clear and convincing evidence" that she knew what she was writing was untrue or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

To reach a verdict in Depp's $50 million lawsuits, the jury must reach unanimity.

Katherine Lizardo, a civil attorney from Texas, stated that it was "too early to tell" which way the jury was leaning but that the question seemed favorable to Depp's argument.

Katherine Lizardo, a civil attorney from Texas, stated that it was "too early to tell" which way the jury was leaning but that the question seemed favorable to Depp's argument.

"According to the special verdict form, if they conclude that he did not [sexually abuse her], this statement is defamatory."

Halim Dhanidina, a former California judge and current criminal defense attorney, told The Post that the jury's query demonstrated that they were focusing on "specific defamation elements."

"It is impossible to predict a jury's leaning based on a question, but it does appear that they are focused on the relevant legal issues, which may benefit one side more than the other," Dhanidina stated. However, this fact at least inspires confidence that the jury is attempting to do the right thing.

He continued, "There is an old saying that attempting to decipher juror questions is akin to reading tea leaves. You do not know if it is a question that all jurors have if it is a question that only one juror has, or simply something they want to clarify before moving on to the next topic.

"It is impossible to determine the jury's position based on the question alone. What you do know is that at least one jury appears to be concentrating on the precise components of defamation, which is entirely proper in this instance."

Publish : 2022-06-01 08:32:00

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