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Amber Heard Says She Is ‘Heartbroken’ In Statement After Johnny Depp Wins Defamation Trial

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Amber Heard, Johnny Depp verdict

A Virginia jury has sided with Johnny Depp, finding that Amber Heard defamed him with allegations that she was a victim of domestic violence.

Heard reacted to the verdict in a statement, stating that she is "heartbroken" and declared the verdict "a setback" for women coming forward with abuse allegations.

Johnny Depp has won his defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard.

The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

For her counterclaim against Depp, Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages but $0 in punitive damages.

Heard had countersued for $100 million, alleging that Depp’s former attorney, Adam Waldman, defamed Heard and damaged her career when he accused her and her friends of perpetrating an “abuse hoax.”

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The jury sided with her on one of three claims related to Waldman's statements which read:

“Quite simply this was an ambush, a hoax. They set Mr Depp up by calling the cops but the first attempt didn’t do the trick. The officers came to the penthouses, thoroughly searched and interviewed, and left after seeing no damage to face or property. So Amber and her friends spilled a little wine and roughed the place up, got their stories straight under the direction of a lawyer and publicist, and then placed a second call to 911.”

The seven-person jury reached their final verdict after 14 hours of deliberation, bringing Depp’s defamation lawsuit against his former wife to a close.

Depp was not in court for the verdict due to "previously scheduled work commitments." He reportedly watched the verdict from the UK.

Amber Heard released a statement after the verdict was read.

Posting to Instagram, Heard wrote in part that the verdict "sets the clock back to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated."

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Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard is based on a 2018 essay.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million in damages over a 2018 opinion-editorial essay she published in The Washington Post in which she identified herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Depp is not named in the article but his legal team argued that the piece indirectly refers to highly-public allegations Heard made against him in 2016 while their breakup was unfolding.

Heard’s legal team argued that the article focuses on public policy on domestic violence and that Heard had a First Amendment right to weigh in on that subject. They also maintained that Depp did abuse Heard.

Against Heard's counterclaim, Depp’s current legal team argued that Waldman was offering his opinion and therefore he cannot have committed defamation.

What did the jury in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial have to decide?

On the jury verdict forms, the jurors were asked to unanimously agree whether three key statements from Heard’s essay were defamatory.

The headline, which reads “I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence — And Faced Our Culture’s Wrath. That Has To Change,” is one of three statements that the jury had to consider. 

Another of the statements was, “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.” 

The other statement is, “I had the vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

Because Depp is a public figure, Heard could only be found guilty of defamation if the jury decides that she acted with “actual malice.”

This would mean that meaning that she either knew what she wrote was false or, she acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

The jury verdict form gives jurors instructions on how to determine that, asking them whether the statements were about Depp, were false, and implied something defamatory about Depp.

Heard’s team argued that Depp’s libel claim must fail if Heard had suffered even one single instance of abuse.

Amber Heard’s abuse allegation against Johnny Depp began in 2016.

Heard and Depp met in 2009 and were married from 2015 to 2016. Abuse allegations first came to light in May 2016 when Heard filed a restraining order against Depp, accusing him of being physically abusive to her throughout their marriage.

Depp has denied ever physically abusing Heard and instead argues that her allegations damaged his career. He has also accused her of being violent and abusive towards him during their marriage.

Since 2016, Depp has also taken and lost a libel case against a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife-beater.”

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.