SECOND UPDATE: Johnny Depp’s attorney wrapped up their final arguments by focusing in part on Amber Heard’s $100 million counterclaim.
Camille Vasquez told jurors that in suing Depp for defamation, Heard has to “prove that her abuse claims are not a hoax.”
Heard’s counterclaim centers on statements made by Adam Waldman, who said in statements made to the Daily Mail that Heard’s allegations of abuse were falsified.
Vasquez said that there is “clear evidence that Waldman believed that Heard committed a hoax.” Depp’s attorney also tried to undermine Heard’s argument that Waldman’s statements caused her reputational harm, arguing that her negative press coverage had nothing to do with the remarks.
She also challenged Heard’s claims for damages, noting the testimony of Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada, who said that the actress’ paycheck was not reduced for Aquaman 2 even though her role was reduced.
“What you have in the end is Miss Heard’s word — do you trust it?” Vasquez said.
Vasquez also disputed Heard’s attorney Ben Rottenborn in his contention that the jury merely needed to believe one instance of domestic abuse to reject Depp’s defamation case.
“Either she is telling the truth, including in her most extreme allegations, or she is lying,” she said. Vasquez argued that in her Washington Post op ed, Heard was alleging physical and sexual abuse by Depp, not mere emotional abuse.
She also addressed Depp’s text messages, some of which used graphic, violent language about Heard. Her legal team brought those up multiple times during the trial. In one message to Paul Bettany, Depp wrote, “Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead.”
Vasquez argued that the messages reflected Depp’s “unique style of writing,” modeled on Hunter S. Thompson.
Acknowledging that the style is not “everyone’s cup of tea,” Vasquez said, “Using bad language…does not make you an abuser.”
UPDATE: Johnny Depp’s attorney told jurors that Amber Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse don’t make sense given that the actor has not been accused by any other woman of physical assault.
“Before Amber Heard, no women ever … claimed Mr. Depp raised a hand to her in his 58 years,” attorney Benjamin Chew told jurors, also noting that no woman since Heard has raised allegations.
“This is MeToo without any MeToo.”
He said that Depp supported the MeToo movement, but argued that the movement was for “true survivors of abuse.”
“Mr. Depp was canceled because Miss Heard falsely accused him of domestic violence,” Chew said.
In his argument, Chew also said that Depp “is no saint.” “He owns his flaws he admits to them, but he is not a violent abuser,” he said.
Depp admitted to drug addiction, but Chew said “there is a world of difference between having substance abuse problems and being a physical abuser.”
Earlier in the Depp team’s closing argument, another of Depp’s attorneys, Camille Vasquez, made the case that it is the actor, not Amber Heard, who was the victim of “persistent verbal, emotional and physical abuse.”
“There is a victim of domestic abuse in this courtroom, and it is not Miss Heard,” Vasquez told the jury.
Vasquez noted that Friday marked six years since Heard went to court to obtain a domestic violence restraining order against Depp, following an argument at their downtown Los Angeles penthouse.
But Vasquez called the scene at the courthouse “a set up,” claiming that Heard orchestrated press coverage to ensure that photographers would be there to take shots of her bruised face. She claimed that Depp struck her with a phone. But Vasquez suggested that Heard staged her injuries, and that “the world only saw what she wanted them to see.”
“Exactly six years later, we ask you to give Mr. Depp his life back,” Vasquez said.
When Heard filed for divorce that same month six years ago, Vasquez said, she didn’t want just the dissolution of their marriage, “She wanted to ruin him.”
Vasquez replayed audio clips of Heard during arguments with Depp, in which she is heard laughing and seemingly taunting her husband.
Vasquez said that “it is Miss Heard that repeatedly admits to violence,” she said, referring to an audio recording in which Heard talked of striking Depp. By contrast, Vasquez said, Depp never admitted to any physical violence against Heard.
Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a December, 2018, op ed in the Washington Post in which she wrote that “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.” Heard countersued for $100 million over claims that she made up her abuse allegations.
Before the oral arguments began, Judge Penney Azcarate instructed the jury on the process for reaching a verdict, reflecting the high bar that each side has for proving their case. In Depp’s case, the jury has to consider three statements Heard made in the Washington Post op ed and, in each instance whether they his side has proven seven elements. They include whether the statements refer to Depp, whether they are defamatory, whether they are false, and whether they show actual malice.
Heard faces a similar burden of proof, and the jury has to decide whether her attorneys have proven five different elements. They will consider three different statements, including those made by Adam Waldman, claiming that Heard’s abuse claims were a hoax. They also have to determine whether Waldman was acting as an agent for Depp.
Depp and Heard were each present in the courtroom for the closing arguments.
Chew said that the Washington Post op ed was clearly about Depp. and that Heard was “trading on her accusations of abuse” against him for a new role as an ACLU ambassador on domestic violence. He said that the op ed’s impact had a clear impact on Depp’s reputation, citing USA Today coverage of the essay that referred to Heard’s earlier allegations against him.”
Vasquez cast Heard as a manipulative figure and cited testimony on the actress’ emotional and mental state. She called Heard a “deeply troubled person” who craved attention.
Vasquez even suggested that when Heard was on the witness stand, she faked some of her most emotional moments, contending that even when the actress was crying, there were no tears. Vasquez cited testimony from an acting coach who said Heard had difficulty faking such fill outbursts.
“It was a performance,” Vasquez said of Heard’s testimony.
Vasquez noted that there were no medical records of Heard’s allegations of physical abuse.
Vasquez ran through what she characterized as inconsistencies in Heard’s claims, running through her specific allegations of abuse. She showed the jury photos of Heard, looking happy and jovial, taken on Dec. 15, 2015, when she appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Heard claimed that, just before that appearance, she had been physically abused by Depp, who struck her and pulled out a clump of her hair. “Are [the Corden photos] consistent with the brutal assault and serious injuries that Miss Heard testified to?” Vasquez asked the jury.
She also showed side-by-side photos of Heard taken on May 21, 2016. That was the night that Depp and Heard had the argument that ultimately led to the end of their marriage. One of the photos showed Heard with redness on her face, which she said was due to Depp’s striking her with a phone. The other didn’t show the redness. Vasquez challenged Heard’s claim that they were two separate photos — the different being that a light was turned on in one — by noting that they “were taken at the exact same time and have the same filing.”
“These photos are not to be trusted,” she said.
Vasquez said that what Heard’s side showed was a “mountain of unproven allegations.”
“Either she is a victim of truly horrible abuse or she is a woman who is willing to say absolutely anything,” she said.
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