A trial over allegations by Johnny Depp against Amber Heard, his ex-wife, is anticipated to turn into a six-week mudslinging soap opera, Heard’s lawyer said to a Virginia jury on Tuesday.
Depp sued Heard for a defaming statement in The Washington Post in 2018, where she referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
Depp alleges that the article targets him, referring him to as an abuser. Depp has denied all allegations.
In Tuesday’s opening statements, Rottenborn said that evidence would reveal that Depp physically and sexually assaulted Heard. But he told jurors that they do not need to make themselves referees of the couple’s turbulent marriage if they focus on the basics of libel law.
He said that Heard was practicing her First Amendment rights as an advocate when she wrote the article, which focused on domestic violence.
He also added that the article belonging to 2018 had nothing to do to tarnish Depp’s reputation. Instead, he focused that the abuse accusations had been exposed to the public over the last 2 years. He said Depp’s downfall in his career was due to his drug-using and drinking habits, which damaged his image in Hollywood.
“This man’s poor choices have brought him to this point,” he added. “Stop blaming other people for your own self-created problems.”
He also pointed out that the article in question does not mention his name, which was the focal point of his argument.
Benjamin Chew, Depp’s lawyer, agreed that Depp’s name never appeared in the article. But, he said, “It didn’t have to, “Everyone in Hollywood knew exactly what she was talking about.”
Chew said that Heard showed up at the courthouse on May 27 of that year with a bruise on her face which was immediately captured by paparazzi. He said that the evidence would prove that Heard gave herself injury to ruin Depp’s image. He added that Depp and Heard had not seen each other since May 21 since he was out on a European tour with the Hollywood Vampires, his band. Police and others saw Heard immediately after May 21, and her face was in a satisfactory state.
Depp and Heard are likely to testify at the trial, scheduled for six weeks, along with actors Paul Bettany and James Franco and the entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Approximately 80 people, largely Depp supporters, sat in the courtroom Tuesday. Some people arrived early for seats, while man seats were vacant.
The first witness of Depp’s elder sister, Christi Dembrowski, said that the pair experienced a difficult childhood in which Depp learned to escape from an abusive mother. She said she saw the same pattern in Depp’s relationship with Heard. Dembrowski struggled on cross-examination. When she was asked why she had sent text messages to Depp in February 2014, she was unwilling to accept concerns about her brother’s drinking habit and drug use.
Heard’s lawyers had sought to have the case trial in California, where the actors live. But a judge ruled that Depp was within his rights to take the case to Virginia since The Washington Post’s computer servers for its online edition are located in the region. Depp’s lawyer said they brought the issue to Virginia because it could be more favorable to them.