What actually went down at Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s downtown LA penthouse six years ago was back in the spotlight today in the former Pirates of the Caribbean star’s $50 million defamation case against his ex-wife.
With Depp, Heard, the jury and everyone else in the packed Virginia courtroom watching the video monitors, LAPD Officer Melissa Saenz bluntly said that “I did not identify her (Heard) as a victim of domestic violence.”
Under questioning by the defense team, the March 21021 deposition showed the 12-year LAPD vet detailing her experience entering and observing the couple’s South Broadway home around 9 PM PT on May 21, 2016. At the conclusion of that short-ish visit, Officer Saenz did not file a report but cited the incident as “closed” because there was, in her opinion, no crime.
In the pre-recorded video Saenz admitted that neither she nor her partner took any notes or took any photos of the call to the Depp-Heard home. She also admitted Heard was “red-eyed,” “crying,” red faced and not making eye contact when they arrived. While saying she had no idea who the residents were, the LAPD officer said she was “impressed” by the penthouse and recognized it belonged to someone wealthy. It’s worth noting that in Depp’s failed 2020 libel suit against the UK newspaper The Sun, Saenz’s testimony was pretty much sidelined for the lack of notes and photos and assumptions about the cause of the state of Heard’s face.
An elevator video of the two officers leaving the penthouse caused some friction between Heard’s lawyer and Saenz in the 2021 deposition with the latter denying she told her partner “that was crazy.”
Both Saenz and her trainee partner Officer Tyler Hadden gave depositions in Depp and Herd’s 2016 divorce proceedings on what they saw and deduced from being on the scene at the then couple’s DTLA residence on May 21, 2016 in response to a call from LAPD dispatch.
In that July 2016 deposition, a mere two months after the incident at Depp and Heard’s place, Saenz said that she “interviewed Ms. Heard and “closely examined her face and found no marks, swelling, or injury to her face.” Six years ago, Saenz said that Heard “told her she was not hurt, nor was Ms. Heard making a complaint against Mr. Depp.”
The playing of Saenz year old deposition continues with attorneys for Depp questioning her next and then some cross examination. The playing of that portion of the video will likely take the court until past 5 PM ET, which traditionally is around the time when Judge Penny Azcarate ends the day.
Tomorrow will likely be packed with more depositions from LAPD officers and people who worked at the DTLA building where Depp and Heard lived in 2016, we hear.
Earlier today, the not board certified forensic psychologist Dr. Shannon Curry told the court as a part of Depp’s argument that she considered Heard to have Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder. Hired by Depp’s legal team after a dinner at the actor’s home with them, him and Depp’s right-hand man and former attorney Adam Waldman, Curry made her diagnosis based in bulk on a 12 hour session with the actress late last year.
She said that she provided Heard with a test that gave out 567 statements which she had to answer true or false. Curry went on to say that others with similar scores as Heard showed traits such as externalization of blame, inner anger and hostility. She told the court that those with borderline disorder “can react violently, they can react aggressively.
“Often times they will be abusive to their partners in these situations,” Curry noted. She also said that they can use what she called “administrative violence,” or making threats that they will use the legal system such as filing for a restraining order by claiming abuse.
In cross examination after Tuesday’s lunch break, Head lawyer Elaine Bredehoft took Newport Beach-based Curry to task for her perceived closeness to the Depp camp and the “coincidence” of her diagnosis exactly matching the taunts that the Edward Scissorhands actor directed at Heard, as was played for the court in audio recordings yesterday.
With Bredehoft reading from the psychologist’s deposition of earlier this year, Curry also confirmed that she has never concluded or arrived at an opinion that Ms. Heard “exhibits patterns of behavior that suggests her allegations of abuse against Mr. Depp are false.” Designation documents submitted by the Depp team suggested otherwise, as the defense lawyer took no small pleasure in pointing out.
The three to four hour long dinner and meeting that Curry had at Depp’s house before being retained was repeatedly a topic under cross examination. Specifically, how “highly irregular” taking such a meeting in such a setting and the gathering itself not being revealed in any documents in relation to Curry’s expert role in the plaintiff’s case.
Clearly, with time spent in the minutiae and in reference to other doctors’ notes, Bredehoft was trying on this ninth day of the much delayed trial to show bias in Curry’s testimony. With Curry remaining relatively composed in the spotlight, whether or not Bredehoft succeeded making that point of bias to the jury is hard to tell at this point. Certainly, the frequently brought up idea of one party being “gaslit” by the other brought a wrinkle to the argument. Curry actually noted that it is rare for men to accuse women of abusing them when they are in fact the perpetrator. Correspondingly, the POV that a relationship characterized by abuse over four years, as Heard claims was the case with Depp, can lead not only to trauma but symptoms similar to the disorders Dr Curry labelled the actress with.
Calling Dr. Curry’s opinion “predictable and lazy,” chartered psychologist Dr Jessica Taylor reached out to Deadline to say that the Borderline Personality Disorder label “has been used knowingly and deliberately weaponised against Amber Heard, just as it is against many women testifying against their male abusers in court.”
Before Dr. Curry’s testimony on Tuesday, the court heard via video from Tara Roberts, who manages Depp’s sprawling Bahamas Isands estate. Roberts spoke of an exchange between Depp and Heard where “Amber was telling him he was a washed-up actor going to die a fat, lonely old man.” Denying she’s ever seen Depp blotto drunk, Roberts did testify under cross examination that in 2013 the actor was “passed out on the beach.” The incident was so worrying that the staffer arranged for Heard and Depp’s two near teen children to leave the island fairly soon afterwards.
A few years after the couple’s very public and restraining order filled divorce in 2016, Depp has often said that he was the victim of domestic abuse in the relationship with Heard, and not the other way around.
Almost three years after Depp and Heard’s divorce and its joint statement of responsibility, the past Oscar nominee sued his Rum Diary co-star in March 2019 in Virginia for a late 2018 Washington Post op-ed Heard wrote about being a victim of domestic abuse. Noted frequently at that point and subsequently is the fact that the op-ed in the Jeff Bezos-owned broadsheet never actually mentioned Depp by name.
Still, fresh in the midst of various litigations at the time, Depp proclaimed that the article was clearly referring to him. Additionally, the past A-list actor said insisted that the op-ed cost him well-paying roles, a return to the Pirates franchise and “devastated” his career.
That assertion has been a matter of extreme dispute in this April 11 starting trial, with defense lawyers pointing out Disney had already pulled back from having Depp in another Pirates film after the fiasco and box office disappointment of 2017’s Dead Men tell No Tales. Also, Heard’s lawyer Ben Rottenborn had Depp admit that even if he were offered “$300 million dollars” plus more by Disney to be in another Pirates flick, he would turn them down. What is important here is that the argument goes to the heart of any damages Depp is seeking from Heard in the already high standard of proving defamation.
Since Depp’s 2019 filing, the Old Dominion case has seen Heard unsuccessfully attempt to have the action dismissed or shifted to California. As a result, Heard also countersued Depp for $100 million in the summer of 2020. Of note, in late 2020, Depp himself proved unsuccessful in his UK libel trial against Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid for calling him a “wife-beater” in print.
Both the countersuit and the British case loom over the proceedings underway in the Fairfax County Courthouse today. Monday saw Depp wrap up his several days of testimony on his own behalf. In court every day since the five-week long trial began, Heard is scheduled to take the stand herself in the next week or so.