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Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard: What to Expect During Closing Statements


As Depp and Heard’s high-profile defamation trial draws to its conclusion, Newsweek has spoken with legal experts about what to expect from their lawyers.
Johnny Depp’s high-profile court battle with ex-wife Amber Heard is set to come to an end on Friday, after several weeks of testimonies placed an often uncomfortable spotlight on their tumultuous relationship. Depp, 58, has filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard, 36, over an op-ed published by The in 2018, in which she stated that she was a domestic abuse survivor. Heard did not name Depp in the article, but his lawyers have argued that it was obvious she was referring to the actor. Heard is countersuing for $100 million. As each star took the stand at Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court, they made a host of allegations against one another, including drug and alcohol use, explosive confrontations, and even a claim that Heard defecated on the couple’s bed. Depp and Heard, whose divorce was finalized in 2017, have also accused one another of domestic abuse. Both have denied the allegations made against them. Since the trial began last month, a host of experts, friends and former friends have testified on behalf of both sides. There have also been celebrity witnesses, including Ellen Barkin and Kate Moss. Also brought up during the trial was Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman, who publicly accused Heard several years ago of making fake sexual assault allegations and conspiring to create an «abuse hoax.»
Heard said on Thursday that she felt «harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day» as a result of the remark. While the tide of public support during the trial appears to have swayed heavily in favor of Depp—at least if social media is to be believed—the verdict will be in the hands of the jurors, who have sat through six weeks of evidence and testimonies. With court proceedings entering their final hours, Newsweek has spoken to legal experts about what can be expected from the exes’ attorneys as they deliver their closing statements to the jury. California First Amendment attorney Jeff Lewis told Newsweek that one of the factors that will be key as the trial comes to a close is jury instructions.
«Expect also lots of arguments from the lawyers — likely off-camera — regarding jury instructions», said Lewis, founder of Jeff Lewis Law. «Jury instructions explain the law to the jury and errors in the instructions can give rise to an appealable issue later on so the lawyers and judge will proceed carefully here.
«Some interesting areas regarding the instructions: Virginia’s anti-SLAPP law is newly amended. There is not a lot of case law (prior cases) about the law. How will the jury be instructed the law applies to this case?»
Turning to his second point, Lewis added: «Depp is being sued for statements made by his attorney about Heard. In a public figure case, Heard and Depp must prove ‘malice’ — that the person making the statements did not believe them to be true.
«This is an odd situation because Heard is suing Depp for statements that Depp did not personally make.

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