Our long national nightmare is over: a verdict has been reached in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Depp appeared remotely from the U.K., while Heard was present in the courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia to hear the verdict read at 12p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Johnny Depp won his defamation case against Heard he was awarded $15 million total in damages. He was awarded $10 millions in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
For her countersuit defamation case against Depp, Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory but none in punitive damages. This essentially means that the jury rejected all of Heard’s three statements and her testimony that featured claims of abuse.
“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” Heard said in a statement via her lawyer to USA TODAY.
In a lengthy statement of his own, as reported by Deadline, Depp said in part:
False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.
And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.
My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought.
From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.
Depp sued his ex-wife for defamation in March 2019, arguing that her 2018 Washington Post op-ed about being a victim of domestic violence–in which he was not named–caused damage to his reputation and career. (He lost a similar suit in the UK, where a judge found that 12 of 14 incidents of domestic violence against Heard had occurred.) Heard countersued in August 2020, and has maintained that Depp rallied a coordinated “smear campaign” of online hate against her.
The case has become a cultural lightning rod, to say the least. The controversial decision to allow the trial to be televised (which Stanford Law professor Michelle Dauber called “the single worst decision I can think of in the context of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in recent history”) allowed the lurid facts of the case to spread far and wide. Details of alleged domestic abuse were decontextualized and turned into memes everywhere from TikTok to Saturday Night Live.
Though the trial is now thankfully over, the damage–to Depp and Heard’s reputations, to countless online dilettantes’ understanding of the legal system, and to the feelings of many abuse survivors triggered by the backlash–has sadly been done.