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Johnny Depp, Amber Heard face off once more in US libel trial

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Actor Johnny Depp talks to the media earlier than a screening of the documentary film he produced: “Crock of gold: A few rounds with Shane McGowan” on the sixteenth Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) in Zurich, Switzerland, Oct. 2, 2020. Image: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

WASHINGTON — The newest chapter in Hollywood star Johnny Depp’s authorized battle with ex-wife Amber Heard kicked off on Monday as a United States defamation trial started over allegations Heard made about home abuse.

Depp, 58, has sued Heard for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she penned a 2018 opinion piece within the Washington Post about being a survivor of home abuse.

The op-ed by no means talked about Depp by title, however Depp’s legal professionals have stated it was clear Heard was referencing him, and that the piece broken his movie profession and popularity.

Juror choice accomplished on Monday and opening statements are slated to start on Tuesday.

Depp has denied all allegations of abuse, saying in his lawsuit that Heard’s claims had been an “elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity for Ms. Heard and advance her career.”

Depp and Heard each submitted lengthy lists of potential witnesses they may placed on the stand.

Heard’s checklist consists of her ex-boyfriend and Tesla TSLA.O chief govt Elon Musk, who she texted with about Depp. Also on the checklist of potential witnesses is actor James Franco, who Heard testified within the London case inquired about bruises on her face following an alleged abusive incident with Depp.

Depp desires the Fairfax County jury to search out that Heard knowingly made false claims.

Heard, for her half, will argue that she is shielded, or “immune,” from legal responsibility as a result of her 2018 op-ed on home violence handled a matter of public concern.

“I never named him. Rather, I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay the price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny,” Heard stated in a press release launched on Saturday.

The Washington Post will not be a defendant within the trial. Depp’s legal professionals have stated they filed the case in Fairfax County, outdoors the District of Columbia, as a result of the newspaper is printed at a facility there. Heard unsuccessfully tried to switch the case to Los Angeles, the place she and Depp lived.

Heard’s legal professionals alleged “forum-shopping,” saying Depp’s attorneys sued in Virginia as a result of they perceived it as a extra favorable venue than California.

California has a extra strongly worded “anti-SLAPP law,” a sort of authorized safety meant to defend journalists and others from frivolous lawsuits designed to silence them.

The United States trial comes lower than two years after Depp misplaced a libel case in opposition to The Sun, a British tabloid that labeled him a “wife beater.” A London High Court decide dominated he had repeatedly assaulted Heard and put her in worry for her life.

The U.S. is a troublesome discussion board for libel plaintiffs, particularly public figures like Depp, who faces a number of hurdles within the Virginia case. Depp should show by clear and convincing proof that Heard knowingly made false claims.

Under English defamation legislation, the particular person being sued has the burden of proving their claims had been true.

Depp and Heard met whereas making “The Rum Diary” in 2011 and married 4 years later. Heard accused Depp of home abuse after submitting for divorce in 2016.

Depp ascended to Hollywood stardom within the Nineties with portrayals of loners and outsiders in cult classics similar to John Waters’ “Cry-Baby” and Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands.”

He turned a family title with the swashbuckling Disney franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean,” enjoying fan favourite Jack Sparrow.

Heard, 35, is understood for her roles in “Aquaman” and “Justice League.” She has introduced her personal libel declare in opposition to Depp, saying he smeared her by calling her a liar.

Heard’s counterclaim will likely be determined as a part of the trial, which might final for six weeks. Heard is in search of $100 million in damages from Depp, in keeping with court docket papers.

In her proof to the London High Court, Heard stated Depp would flip right into a jealous alter ego, “the monster,” after binging on medicine and alcohol and had threatened to kill her.

She detailed 14 events of utmost violence when she stated the actor choked, punched, slapped, head-butted, throttled and kicked her. The London decide accepted 12 of those accounts as true.

Following the November 2020 ruling within the London libel trial, Depp was changed with Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen within the third movie within the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, a spin-off from the “Harry Potter” books and movies. JB

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