Thursday Feb 02, 2023

Lawyers give closing arguments in Depp-Heard defamation trial


Lawyers for Hollywood actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have given their closing arguments in the much-watched defamation trial, with each side accusing the other of abuse.

For six weeks, private details of the celebrity marriage have been aired to the world during proceedings in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia.

It will fall to the jury panel, which has begun its deliberations, to come to a unanimous decision.

Depp is suing his ex-wife for $US50million ($69 million) for defamation over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse”, while Heard is counter-suing for $US100 million ($140 million).

Johnny Depp and his lawyer Camille Vasquez after her closing argument. Photo: Getty

In their final remarks to the court, Depp’s lawyers asked jurors to “hold Ms Heard accountable for her ‘lies’”.

Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez said Heard’s allegations were “wild, over the top and implausible” and accused her of giving a performance in the courtroom.

“You saw it, Ms Heard sobbing without tears while spinning elaborate exaggerated fantastical accounts of abuse. It was a performance,” said Ms Vasquez.

“There is an abuser in this courtroom, but it is not Mr Depp.

“Mr Depp experienced persistent verbal, physical and emotional abuse by Ms Heard.”

One of Heard’s lawyers, Benjamin Rottenborn, said the past six weeks had offered a “window into the heart and mind of America’s favourite pirate” — a bully and abuse.

“This is the real Johnny Depp,” he said.

“We ask, ladies and gentleman, that you hold Mr. Depp accountable for his actions.

“Stand up for victims of domestic abuse everywhere who are suffering in silence. Stand up for freedom of speech.”

Mr Rottenborn said Depp had vowed to bring “global humiliation” to his ex-wife and she had suffered many lost opportunities.

“Give Amber Heard her voice back…give Amber Heard her life back.”

Earlier when taking to the stand on Thursday, Heard told jurors that a harassment campaign waged against her by Depp had left her humiliated and scared for her life from multiple death threats.

“The harassment and the humiliation, the campaign against me that’s echoed every single day on social media, and now in front of cameras in the showroom — every single day I have to relive the trauma,” Heard said as she fought back tears.

“Perhaps it’s easy to forget I’m a human being.”

Heard said she hoped the lawsuit would allow her to regain her voice, and said she had the “right as an American” to publish an article that described her experiences and how they related to the national debate over domestic violence.

“Johnny has taken enough of my voice,” she said.

“I have the right to tell my story.”

Depp has denied he ever struck Heard and says she was the abuser in the relationship.

Heard has testified about more than a dozen separate instances of physical abuse she says she suffered at Depp’s hands.

Actor Amber Heard hugs lawyer Elaine Bredehoft as the jury retires. Photo: Getty

The final witness on Thursday morning for Depp’s side was a hand surgeon, Richard Gilbert, who said he thinks the injury that occurred to Depp’s middle finger could have occurred as Depp describes it.

The tip of the finger was severed during a fight the couple had in Australia.

Depp says it occurred when Heard threw a large vodka bottle at him.

Heard says Depp did it to himself in a drug-fuelled rage on a night when he also sexually assaulted her with a liquor bottle.

-with AAP

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