American justice “clearly tilted in favor of Johnny Depp”, in his trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard, commented Nicolas Rebbot, lawyer at the Paris bar and specialist in media law, Wednesday June 1 on franceinfo. The jurors concluded that the two stars had defamed each other. They ordered the actress to pay the actor $15 million in damages. Pirates of the Caribbeancalling “false statements” the remarks she made in a column published in 2018 in the washington post, in which she described herself as a victim of domestic violence, without naming her ex-husband. For his part, Johnny Depp will have to pay him two million dollars in compensation for defamation as well.
franceinfo: How to interpret this decision?
Nicholas Rebbot: The final decision of the jury, even if it seems to spare the goat and the cabbage, clearly leaned in favor of Johnny Depp. This is the culmination of what we had seen implicitly throughout the period of the trial, a public opinion very favorable to Johnny Depp. The jury therefore leaned in favor of the actor, believing that he had provided the most important evidence to prove his prejudice.
Can this decision lead to a questioning of the MeToo movement and its importance in American society?
We will have to be very careful not to include the feminist movement in this decision. This is not a reverse of the MeToo movement. This decision did not prove Amber Heard right, but the MeToo movement had already broken away from the actress’ testimony, her statements, and the posture she held during this trial. We are facing a woman who had a particular behavior. They had a toxic relationship. There were casualties on both sides. And there was inappropriate behavior on both sides. The MeToo movement will not suffer.
Is there something positive for the feminist cause despite everything?
The positive thing to remember is that we have the voice of a woman who was listened to, heard about the violence she may have suffered, who was able to put forward her arguments, her evidence. Only she failed to convince. The jury was more convinced by the evidence of Johnny Depp, by the work of his lawyers. But, I don’t think we can say that this undermines the MeToo movement.
Johnny Depp was asking for $50 million in compensation, does the court decision satisfy him or is the idea of an appeal possible?
There are thousands of possible appeals against the jury’s decision. But, when it comes to Johnny Depp, he has no interest in appealing. He had already won before the verdict. What he wanted was to restore his image to revive his career which had lost its luster. He was also not present at the verdict, since the meaning of the decision mattered little to him in reality. On the other hand, Amber Heard, she lost everything. From the start, she has had a deplorable image in public opinion and she took a slap in the face from the jury who recognized her as only a small part of the complaint she filed against Johnny Depp. So she has more material to counterattack, to find remedies to try to resume a career much less flamboyant than that of Johnny Depp.