From our correspondent in the United States,
Question after question, the jury answered “yes” about twenty times. Yes, Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp by writing in an editorial that she was “a public figure representing domestic violence”. “Yes”, she spoke well, even without quoting him, of her ex-husband. “Yes”, she had “malicious intent”. When the very heavy figure of fifteen million dollars in damages – then reduced to just over 10 million by the judge – fell, Amber Heard seemed to blame the blow. True, the jury also found that Johnny Depp had also defamed her and should pay her $2 million. But after six weeks of big unboxing, the actor, who was away in London, savored a resounding victory on Instagram, writing: “The jury gave me back my life. »
He was, however, facing a judicial Everest. Many observers recalled that winning a defamation lawsuit, particularly for a celebrity in the United States, home of “free speech”, is much more difficult in front of a jury than on Twitter. But Johnny Depp was able to count on a team of pugnacious lawyers who tried to prove, with supporting recordings, that Amber Heard, who presented himself at the bar as a victim, was the real culprit of violence. Or had at least participated in a toxic relationship. Camille Vasquez, who came to light during this trial, had a triumphant smile in front of the cameras, launching: “This verdict confirms what we have said from the start: the accusations against Johnny Depp were defamatory and were not supported by any evidence. »
Amber Heard “devastated”
Amber Heard, who has 30 days to appeal – the most controversial point being the title of the editorial on “sexual violence”, which she did not write but only retweeted – said she was “disappointed and “devastated”. She may regret the strategy of her lawyers, who spent most of their allotted time on the abuses she said she suffered, forgetting to emphasize free speech protections in the face of defamation.
In particular, it was not until the last day of the pleadings to hear one of his counsel explain to the jurors that even if they did not believe everything that Amber Heard said, it was enough that Johnny Depp had been violent only once, physically or verbally, so that his editorial is not defamatory.
Men strike back
Amber Heard does not say so explicitly, but she implies that this decision could mark a setback for the #MeToo movement. “I am even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It’s a throwback to a time when women testifying publicly were humiliated,” she wrote on Instagram.
Some did not take long to react. Singer Ryan Adams, accused of harassment by seven women including Mandy Moore, responded to Johnny Depp’s Instagram post with heart and raised hands emojis. And the action of the actor already seemed to have inspired his friend Marilyn Manson, accused of rape and violence by his ex-girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood: the singer filed a complaint for defamation last March.