In the midst of the trial that has captivated the internet, Amber Heard’s legal team filed a motion for dismissal of Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against her. However, after hearing both sides’ arguments, the judge denied the request.
Depp’s side finished its witness list on Tuesday, while the plaintiff rested their case. Before the defence counsel called witnesses, Heard’s lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, made the case for why the lawsuit should be dismissed, claiming that Depp’s side doesn’t have enough evidence to show defamation.
In his closing remarks, Rottenborn countered Chew’s point by mentioning “disputed evidence” of abuse in the plaintiff’s case, saying that “I can tell you, she (Heard) is not the abuser, and if the case moves forward, she and her witnesses will put on even more evidence of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of Mr. Depp.”
Depp and other of his expert witnesses testified that domestic abuse may take many forms, not just physical, according to Rottenborn. “Even by their standard,” he added, “the undisputed evidence is that Mr. Depp did commit abuse against Ms. Heard.”
Depp’s lawyer, Benjamin Chew, summarised their witness testimony, arguing that they’ve demonstrated how Heard’s December 2018 Washington Post op-ed, which is at the crux of the case, harmed Depp’s career and reputation. She wrote of being a “public figure representing domestic abuse” and suffering “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” but she did not mention Depp by name.
Judge Penney Azcarate denied the motions after evaluating all of the material, stating that the “weight of that evidence is up to the fact-finders,” implying that she will let the jury decide if Heard’s op-ed was really defamatory as the trial progresses.
Depp initially filed this $50 million case against Heard in 2019, but it was postponed due to the pandemic until April 11, when a jury was selected in Fairfax, Virginia. The opening remarks began the next day.
Heard had earlier requested for Depp’s Virginia action to be dismissed, arguing that the U.K. judgement should govern the proceedings in the United States because both lawsuits rely on allegations of abuse by Depp. Azcarate, on the other hand, gave Depp the right to continue his lawsuit in August, rejecting Heard’s additional appeal to dismiss the case.