Hurd’s lawyer warned a jury in Virginia on Tuesday that Johnny Depp’s trial on libel charges against his ex-wife amber heard could evolve into a six week libel soap opera.
Hurd’s lawyer J. Benjamin rotenborn told the jury in the opening statement of the civil trial: “you’ll see who the real Johnny Depp is – behind the reputation, behind the pirate costume.”. “Because Johnny Depp brought this case, all this will be made public.”
In 2018, Depp wrote a commentary in the Washington Post calling herself a “public figure representing domestic abuse”, and then she filed a libel lawsuit in the Fairfax County Circuit Court
Depp said the article referred to allegations of abuse heard in 2016 and indirectly slandered him. Depp denied abusing her.
In his opening remarks on Tuesday, rothenburn said the evidence would show that Depp had heard physical and sexual attacks many times. But he told jurors that if they focused on the basics of libel law, they didn’t need to be the judge of the couple’s turbulent marriage.
He argued that Hurd exercised her right of defence under the First Amendment when writing this article focusing on the broad topic of domestic violence.
He also said that the 2018 article did not damage Depp’s reputation. He pointed out that the abuse allegations had been made public for two years. He said Depp’s career spiral was the result of his drinking and drug abuse, which made him an unreliable commodity for Hollywood film companies.
“This man’s bad choice brought him to this point,” he said. “Don’t blame others for your problems.”
Most importantly, however, he pointed out that the article never even mentioned Depp’s name.
Depp’s lawyer Benjamin Zhou admitted that Depp’s name never appeared in this article.
“It’s not necessary,” Zhou told the jury. “Everyone in Hollywood knows what she’s talking about.”
Depp’s team believes that this article is an example of “implicit slander”. In an article in December 2018, Hurd wrote, “two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the anger of our culture against outspoken women.”
Zhou said that this obviously refers to that in May 2016, after Depp told her he wanted to divorce, she applied for a restraining order and claimed that she had been physically abused.
Zhou said that she appeared in the court on May 27 that year with a bruise on her face, which was photographed by the paparazzi. But he said the evidence would show that Hurd caused harm himself and damaged Depp’s reputation. He said Depp and Hurd had not met since May 21: he and his band Hollywood vampires went on a European tour.
Zhou said that the police and others saw her voice immediately after May 21, and there were no bruises on her face. He said a witness would testify that he saw Hurd’s sister throwing fake fists at her in the security video and the two laughed.
Another Depp lawyer, Camille Vasquez, told the jury that Hurd refused to admit that she had lied and was now under investigation.
Vasquez said: “she can’t flinch. For years, she has lived in this lie and breathed it.”. “She will give the best performance of her life in this court.”
Depp and Hurd are expected to testify in the six week trial, along with actors Paul BERTANI, James Franco and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Depp finds support, favourable laws in Virginia
On Tuesday, about 80 people sat in court, most of them Depp supporters. Some people lined up for seats several hours in advance, but several rows of seats were basically empty.
A few minutes before the 10 a.m. opening time, the court was silent for a few minutes when Hurd entered the court through a special entrance usually reserved for judges. But a minute later, when Depp came in through a special entrance again, someone heard breathing.
On Monday, a civil jury of seven members and four alternates was selected to hear the case.
Hurd’s lawyer tried to hear the case in California, where the actor lived. But the judge ruled that Depp had the right to sue in Virginia because the online computer server of the Washington Post was located in that county. Depp’s lawyer said they filed a lawsuit in Virginia, in part because the law here is more favorable to their case.