Amber Heard loses bid to throw out Johnny Depp defamation case ahead of taking the stand
Amber Heard has been denied a bid to dismiss Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against her on Tuesday (3 May), according to The Independent.
Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 35, in a $50 million defamation suit over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in which she accused him of being abusive. Heard has sued back, with a $100 million counterclaim against Depp, alleging “abuse and harassment”.
Defamation is described as an untrue statement presented as fact, and causes harm to the person it describes; in United States law, it is up to the person who believes they have been defamed to prove that the statement about them is not true.
Heard’s defence lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, argued for a motion to dismiss the case on Tuesday, alleging that Depp’s attorneys failed to meet the burden of proof that Depp was not abusive towards Heard, claiming it is “undisputed” that Heard was physically and verbally abused.
Rottenborn argued that the crux of the case is whether Heard can be held responsible for defamation because of her Washington Post column, and nothing else.
While Heard did not name Depp in the piece, his legal team has argued that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which it says is “categorically and demonstrably false”, the BBC reported.
Judge Penney Azcarate dismissed Heard’s team’s appeal to throw out the defamation case, and Heard herself is expected to take the witness stand on Wednesday (4 May).
The trial began on 11 April in Virginia’s Fairfax County district courthouse, and has so far seen Depp accused of sexually assaulting Heard, and texting a friend hoping “Amber Heard’s rotting corpse was decomposing” in the trunk of a car. Depp has denied hitting Heard, stating that he would “never strike a woman”, and has denied the sexual assault claim.
The court also previously heard the couple’s marriage counsellor describe their relationship as “mutually abusive”.
Depp spent four days giving testimony in the trial ahead of Heard standing herself, in one case alleging that shortly after the couple were married, an argument had become so serious that it ended in his finger being sliced off.
During the fight in Australia in 2015, he claimed Heard had thrown two vodka bottles at him, one of which smashed and severed his finger.
He said: “I don’t know what a nervous breakdown feels like, but that’s probably the closest that I’ve ever been. Nothing made sense and I knew in my mind and in my heart that this is not life.”
Johnny Depp said his mental state was so bad that he began “to write in my own blood on the walls”, before eventually texting his doctor to come to the house.
The trial continues, and is expected to last six weeks.