Jury selection began today in a long-awaited defamation lawsuit Johnny Depp Filed criminal charges against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, whom he alleges misrepresented him as a domestic abuser.
The former Hollywood power couple is expected to testify at the trial in person, and high-profile figures including James Franco, Paul Bettany and Elon Musk should give testimony.
Mr Depp is suing his former partner for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post discussing her experience of domestic violence.
The actor’s lawyers say the article falsely implied that Ms Heard, 35, was physically and sexually abused by Depp when they were married.
Mr Depp, 58, said the allegations have made it difficult for him to get the kind of roles he once had.
The piece was entitled: I spoke out against sexual violence – and faced the wrath of our culture. That needs to change.
The article does not mention Mr Depp by name.
Ms. Heard’s attorneys are expected to argue that she should be immune from the defamation lawsuit because of a Virginia law known as the Anti-Slapp Provision (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).
The provision is designed to protect people from harassment claims when speaking about matters of public interest.
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Ms Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, has argued that the article addresses a very serious issue of public concern: the prevention of domestic violence.
The actress has also filed a counterclaim for defamation against Mr Depp because of statements made about her by Mr Depp’s attorney.
The case is being brought in Virginia and not in California, where the actors live, because the Washington Post’s online editions are published from servers in Fairfax County.
Mr. Depp’s attorneys say one of the reasons they brought the case in Virginia is that the state’s anti-slapping law is not as comprehensive as California’s.
The lawsuit, which is taking place in the Fairfax County District Courthouse, seeks $50 million in damages.
More than a dozen women, some waving “Justice for Johnny” signs, joined other fans waving pirate flags in recognition of Depp’s prominent role in the Pirates of the Caribbean films and waited an hour the hearing in front of the courthouse.
The courtroom in the city of Fairfax was closed to the public today, with restricted access for closed circles in a crowded courtroom. People lined up before 7am to get the wristbands that allowed access.
The judge overseeing the trial, Penney Azcarate, has issued a number of entry rules to try to maintain decency in the courthouse. Most importantly, neither Depp nor Heard are allowed to pose for photos or sign autographs inside the courthouse or on the court grounds.
Depp’s fans were vocal in support, saying he was falsely accused. Raylyn Otie, a Depp fan from Bluefield, Virginia, drove five hours to see the movie star. She was disappointed when Depp didn’t personally greet fans, as sheriff’s deputies carefully limited fan access.
“I’m so disappointed. I came to give him flowers to show some support,” she said, holding a bouquet.
In a separate lawsuit Depp filed against a British newspaper, a judge dismissed the case, finding that Depp had assaulted Heard a dozen times, leaving her in fear for her life on multiple occasions.
Heard has filed a countersuit against Depp alleging that his lawyers defamed her at his direction.
Heard’s attorneys unsuccessfully tried to transfer the case to California, where the actors live. A judge in Fairfax ruled that Depp was eligible to bring the case here because the Post’s online editions are published through servers in Fairfax County. Depp’s attorneys said they brought the case to Virginia in part because the laws here were more favorable to their case.
The process is expected to take more than a month.
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/johnny-depp-and-amber-heard-arrive-at-virginia-court-for-multimillion-dollar-defamation-lawsuit-41540973.html Trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: Actors arrive in court in Virginia for multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit