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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have returned to court 18months after their last showdown – a libel trial set in the UK. This time Depp is suing Heard for $50m (£38m) over an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse.
Although Heard didn’t name him, he claims her allegations impacted his ability to work. Heard has sued back with a $100m counterclaim against Depp as their bitter legal battle continues in Fairfax County, Virginia. The case opened last month (11th April).
It comes after Depp lost their first legal battle back in November 2020 – a libel case against the Sun newspaper over an article that called him a “wife beater”. The defamation trial so far has featured painful accusations of unreasonable behaviour and domestic abuse. More than four weeks into these latest proceedings, we look at when the trial is expected to end…
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial: when does it end?
The Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial is expected to end sometime after 27th May as the trial was scheduled to run for five weeks. The trial opened on Monday, 11th April and five weeks. However, court proceedings are on a hiatus this week as Judge Penney Azcarate is attending a conference.
She informed both parties and the jury of the 10-day break at the start of the trial. So the fifth week of proceedings is expected to kick off again soon, with Amber Heard continuing to give testimony on 16th May at 9 am. She will be cross-examined by Depp’s lawyers.
Closing arguments are expected to be given on May 27th.
At the end of last week, both sides issued statements of confidence in how the proceedings are going. Heard has already spoken extensively about her troubled relationship with Depp and detailed alleged physical fights. The court heard a harrowing account of an alleged sexual assault on Heard during a brutal and bloody altercation in Australia in 2015. The couple has both made damning claims about the other during the proceedings in Virginia with both levelling allegations of both verbal and physical abuse.
During the course of his three and a half days on the witness stand, Mr Depp testified at length about alleged physical and verbal abuse he sustained at Ms. Heard’s hands, as well as her alleged drug and alcohol use.
It’s understood Depp will also be called back to the witness stand as part of Heard’s case.
Like UK proceedings, there are various stages of a US trial that must be completed before a verdict can be decided. In the UK the jury has to hear from both prosecution and defense lawyers before the accuser and the accused stand and face cross-examination. Then witnesses for each are called and they are cross-examined before a closing argument. A final summing up of the case is heard, then the jury delivers its verdict to the judge who then gives their ruling.
Who will testify for Amber?
Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez is expected to testify for Amber, along with actor Ellen Barkin. Depp’s sister Debbie Depp has yet to testify but she appears on Heard’s list of potential witnesses and could give evidence when the trial resumes. Elon Musk was reportedly taking to the stand but a source familiar with the situation told The Independent that he would NOT in fact be taking the stand.
James Franco was also listed among Heard’s potential witnesses, expected to appear via video link. But as with Musk, The Independent has since learned that he will not be testifying.
Over weeks of testimony, the jury has heard from a string of witnesses already. These include the couple’s former marriage counsellor, their friends, employees and Depp himself. Testimony has thus far painted a captivating and disturbing portrait of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s doomed marriage, laying bare alleged violent fights, drug use claims, and vicious words to each other.
Ahead of the trial starting, both Depp and Heard published a list of witnesses that their teams may wish to call upon and filed lists of objections to some of each other’s witnesses. So, the final pool of people giving evidence will continue to evolve as the proceedings go on.
Why is it significant that Amber Heard mentioned Kate Moss?
In her testimony, Amber Heard mentioned Kate Moss – who dated Depp in the mid-90s. This is significant as it’s thought that Heard mentioning the supermodel gives Depp’s team the freedom to call Kate to refute the testimony. Considering she is supposedly on good terms with Johnny, this could create a question over Amber Heard’s credibility.
“(Kate Moss) is still allegedly friends with Johnny and her testimony wasn’t allowed to come in before because it wasn’t as relevant. That’s one mistake that (Amber) made, was bringing up Kate Moss, which potentially opened the door to (Johnny’s team) bringing (Kate) on as an impeachment witness,” California entertainment lawyer Mitra Ahouraian told New York Post.
The joyous response from Johnny and his legal team when Kate Moss was mentioned had many onlookers confused at the time, as shown in the video below.
Amber brought up the supermodel while looking back on an alleged altercation between Depp and her sister, Whitney, in March 2015. She told the court: ‘(Whitney’s) back was to the staircase, and Johnny swings at her. I don’t hesitate, I don’t wait — I just, in my head, instantly think of Kate Moss and stairs.’
Although no further context was given this could relate to the same incident Heard mentioned during the 2020 defamation trial in the UK. According to The New York Post she told the court: ‘I remembered information I had heard [that] he pushed a former girlfriend — I believe it was Kate Moss — down the stairs. I had heard this rumour from two people and it was fresh in my mind.’
New York Post has quoted a source close to Johnny Depp, who says, “Amber mentioned an ex of Johnny’s that clearly she felt was not supportive of him, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The source further claimed that the gesture from Johnny and his lawyer Benjamin Chew was a ‘celebratory acknowledgement’.
The Trial continues…