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Legal Experts Explain What It Will Take For Depp To Win Defamation Case Against Amber Heard

by : Emily Brown on :
Legal Experts Explain What It Will Take For Depp To Win Defamation Case Against Amber Heard
Legal Experts Explain What It Will Take For Depp To Win Defamation Case Against Amber Heard (Alamy)

Legal experts have explained what it would take for Johnny Depp to be successful in his ongoing defamation case against Amber Heard.

Depp filed the lawsuit against his ex-wife in response to a 2018 op-ed in which she described herself as 'a public figure representing domestic abuse'; a description which Depp has claimed implies he abused her.

Both Heard and Depp have taken to the stand in the case, with Heard having filed a countersuit asking for $100 million in damages.

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Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard for defamation. Credit: Alamy
Johnny Depp sued Amber Heard for defamation. Credit: Alamy

Speaking with The Independent, entertainment lawyer Mitra Ahouraian expressed belief Depp 'did really great as a witness', saying he came off as 'likeable' and someone who 'was himself'. Jesse Weber, an attorney and host on the Law & Crime network, agreed, saying Depp 'came off very strong' and 'took his time'.

“He was contemplating his answers and he didn’t speak like one of his characters. He spoke like a real human being. For me, and I think for a lot of people, it came off as very relatable," Weber continued.

While presenting well on the stand may go in Depp's favour, media litigation lawyer Alex Wade has explained the actor must demonstrate Heard behaved with 'actual malice against him' in her op-ed - in other words, prove that 'she's lying' - in order to win his case.

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Depp's legal team will be tasked with proving to the jury that Heard either knew she was writing false information in the op-ed, or that she acted with a reckless disregard for the truth.

For Heard's countersuit, she too would have to prove the same standard of actual malice in relation to Depp's claim of defamation.

Amber Heard filed a countersuit against Depp. Credit: Alamy
Amber Heard filed a countersuit against Depp. Credit: Alamy

Ahouraian explained: “She would have to establish that he knows those things that he put in the complaint are not true, or he doesn’t care if they’re true or not, he just wants to make her look bad.

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“She has to show that malicious intent, which is difficult to do, but she has a greater chance of winning if she can show that the statements she made were true.”

Proving actual malice is tough in a court of law, as it relies on determining a person's intentions. Wade expressed belief Depp’s alleged drug and alcohol use may make him seem less credible to the jury, though Weber said Heard is 'more in the hot seat' than Depp as she is 'the main defendant in this case'.

“After three weeks of testimony against her, it’s now her chance to reframe the narrative," Weber added.

The case may not end up with a clear winner and loser, as the jury could choose not to rule in favour of Heard or Depp. Weber also noted that while Depp could win 'in the court of public opinion', he could lose the legal case if Heard can prove 'just one instance of abuse'.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University before going on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems. She joined UNILAD in 2018 and now works as Senior Journalist covering breaking news, trending stories and longer form features with a focus on human interest stories.

Topics: News, Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, US News, Celebrity