Wrapping up the Defamation Trial

It’s official: you can look forward to a day when Amber Heard and Johnny Depp will no longer be the top story on your newsfeed. Feels great, doesn’t it? Especially after hearing non-stop coverage of the trial where these two rich and famous people bashed each other in court for nearly three weeks. Though the coverage isn’t likely to stop immediately, it’s likely going to begin a steep decline, one I’m sure many are grateful for. Although you may not really care about the lives of these celebrities, this case does bring up an important conversation we still need to address as a society.

I’m out of the Loop; What Happened?

In case you’re out of the loop, Johnny Depp’s ex wife, Amber Heard, wrote an OP-ed titled, “I Spoke up against Sexual Violence — and Faced Our Culture’s Wrath. That Has to Change.” Johnny Depp recently filed a lawsuit against Amber Heard for the article. In the most simple terms, Johnny Depp’s lawsuit alleged that Amber Heard defamed him in that article and that reputation damaged Johnny Depp’s career. Heard is counter suing Depp for defamation since he gave the impression that her domestic abuse allegations were fabricated. The civil trial lasted several weeks and the entire trial was publicly shown on national television. From the beginning of the trial, there has been an overwhelming amount of support for Johnny Depp. And, considering what came out during the trial, support of Depp only seemed to grow. 

Let’s Talk about Defamation

In defamation cases, a person has to prove that the defendant’s conduct has all the elements of defamation. So, in the defamation suit between Heard and Depp, Depp needed to prove that Heard’s statement was false, negligently published, and caused Depp damage—such as career damage sustained when Depp lost his part in lucrative acting roles. Since Depp is a celebrity, he also needed to prove that Heard’s article was written with malice. These standards had a lot of people wondering whether or not either party would receive a judgment in their favor. In fact, many wondered if the trial was an elaborate publicity stunt aimed at repairing the actors’ careers once all the dirty laundry had been aired.

What about an Appeal?

A lot of people think that an appeal is like a “do-over”. People seem to think it’s like saying, “I didn’t like that verdict, so I wanna try again to get a verdict I like.”  However, that’s not how it works. In order to be granted an appeal, a person must allege that there was an issue with the trial and the trial’s proceedings, and that issue swayed the outcome of the trial. A new appeal doesn’t always mean a new trial. In fact, an appeal rarely means that there’s going to be another trial. When there’s an appeal, it usually means that the evidence is going to be reviewed again. Both parties are able to request an appeal if they feel that there was something wrong with the trial’s proceedings.

What Does the Verdict Mean for Them?

Hopefully, this verdict means the start of something new. It would be ideal for both parties to move forward with a sense of closure. Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens in cases such as this where emotions are running high and both parties are reliving painful and traumatic memories. Because of this, either party may choose to make an attempt to appeal the verdict. These high-conflict situations are the perfect place for appeals and lengthy legal battles to begin. At CoilLaw, we advise our clients that are stuck in high-conflict situations to be ready to compromise on the things that aren’t important while fighting for the things that really matter. Though moving forward is what we hope the verdict means, it may also mean the beginning of a series of lawsuits.

What Does the Verdict Mean for Us?

With the immense amount of media attention this trial captured, this verdict means something to the domestic abuse survivors in the United States as well as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. To begin with, this verdict, along with the support Johnny Depp has received, means that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence; it’s not just limited to women. Sadly, many men are afraid to come forward with their stories of domestic violence for fear of being humiliated or accused of lying. Our society still supports a narrative where it isn’t possible for men to be abused in any form. In fact, this theme is so recurrent that most people have heard jokes about men who are beaten by their wives, or how it’s impossible to rape men. In a case where a famous man comes forward as a victim of domestic violence, it may inspire other men to come forward as well.