The courtroom war of the Roses between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard ends in a broad victory for the actor. Legal experts see a clear message in the judgment – and blame.
Dressed in all black, Amber Heard listened with her eyes downcast in Fairfax County Courthouse as the verdict was announced. The jury did not believe her allegations of abuse. The jury ordered her to pay Johnny Depp $15 million in defamation damages. While Heard only has to pay out $10.35 million because Virginia law limits punitive damages, that should be little consolation.
At the same time, Depp was also found guilty. Heard had filed a countersuit against him, seeking $100 million in damages. She claimed Depp was running a campaign to discredit her and her allegations as “fake” and “hoax”. The jury found that he owed her compensation for only one of the three defendant statements. He now has to pay Heard two million dollars.
“It’s an odd result,” attorney and legal analyst Emily D. Baker told People magazine. “Johnny Depp won all three of his counts of defamation and Amber Heard won one of her counterclaims.”
“A very unexpected result”
Family law attorney and psychologist David Glass also said it was “a very unexpected finding.” It is “relatively rare” that both parties in a case like this suffer both a win and a loss at the same time.
“But the verdict was clearly in favor of Johnny Depp because the jury didn’t believe Amber Heard,” he told People. The jury merely believed their expert, who claimed that her career had been “slightly damaged”.
The sums that the jury named in the verdict are characteristic of both legal experts. “It is very telling that the jury awarded Johnny Depp $10 million in compensatory damages plus $5 million in punitive damages, even though the court had already reduced the latter amount because Virginia does not allow more than $350,000 in punitive damages,” Baker said. “That’s punitive damages saying we don’t like what you did. That five million figure is a message.”
Johnny Depp gets away with no fines
However, she sees the bigger message in the amount that Depp was committed to. Heard was awarded $2 million in damages, but no fine was imposed on Depp. “I think that was the clearest message the jury sent.” The jury does not see Depp to blame, only Heard.