Johnny Depp’s $100million defamation trial against ex wife Amber Heard begins today

Johnny Depp’s $100million defamation trial against ex wife Amber Heard begins today

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Johnny Depp‘s $100million defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard kicks off today in Fairfax, Virginia with jury selection. 

The two actors were brought into the courthouse in secrecy after Judge Penney Azcarate ordered deputies to stop the proceedings becoming a media circus.

Neither were seen until they appeared in an internal video feed, sitting on opposite sides of the oak-paneled courtroom, Depp, 58, wearing a grey suit and Amber, 35, wearing a black suit jacket and white blouse. The judge also issued an order banning either party from giving autographs or fraternizing with fans. 

Judge Azcarate began by grilling the pool of 60 potential jurors about what they knew of the rancorous three-year defamation case.

‘We need to find out what you know and whether you can be a fair, impartial juror,’ she told the hearing, which was closed to the public. ‘What you hear about this case must be limited to what you hear within the four walls of this courtroom.’

The majority of prospective jurors said they had heard snippets about the case, seen photos or had read a handful of articles but all said they could keep an open mind. 

Johnny Depp is seen leaving Fairfax County Court House in Virginia Monday at the end of the first day of his $100million defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard 

Depp, who wore a gray suit for the first day of trial, has blamed his ex-wife for damaging his reputation after she labeled him an abuser in a 2018 op-ed

The 58-year-old Hollywood star was flanked by his legal team as he left the court 

Depp waved to his fans from the back of a black SUV while leaving the Fairfax County courthouse after jury selection Monday 

Actress Amber Heard departs court Monday after jury selection in Fairfax, Virginia 

The highly anticipated trial is expected to last five or six weeks

One man told the court he was familiar with Depp but had never heard of Amber Heard.

Asked if he was a fan of Depp, he laughed and replied: ‘Not really, I’ve seen his movies.’

Another possible juror read out loud a text message his wife had sent him earlier that morning.

‘Amber is Psychotic, Johnny was set up. Nobody pays attention to spousal abuse when the husband is the victim … lol,’ he said, laughing.

The message solicited a roar of approval from dozens of Depp fans who had turned up hours earlier to snag a place in the overflow room, dwarfing the handful of reporters.

Asked if he could set aside his wife’s ‘definitive’ opinions, he said he could and joked: ‘She tends to exaggerate.’     

Fans began gathering outside the courthouse at 5am, the majority there to show support for Depp. 

‘I love him dearly. I’ve been a fan for 36 years, I’ve met him many times,’ gushed Yvonne de Boer, who made the pilgrimage from Los Angeles to Virginia.

‘I want to be hear from him, to hear him speak his truth. We want him to know he’s not alone.’   

The former flames are preparing to square up over a December 2018 op-ed Heard penned for the Washington Post declaring herself a domestic violence survivor.

Johnny Depp’s $100million defamation trial against ex wife Amber Heard began today in Virginia with jury selection 

The actor is seen walking out of the Fairfax courthouse with his team of high-powered attorneys 

The former flames are preparing to square up over a December 2018 op-ed Heard penned for the Washington Post declaring herself a domestic violence survivor

Johnny Depp & Amber Heard’s names are shown on court docket screen at Virginia Court House

Fans began gathering outside the courthouse at 5am, the majority there to show support for Depp

The Judge issued an order banning either party from giving autographs or fraternizing with fans

After lengthy delays due to the Covid pandemic, the former flames finally lock horns in Fairfax County, Virginia where the Washington Post servers that published the disputed op-ed are based

The article did not mention Depp by name but the veteran actor sued for $50 million, claiming he was booted from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise because of the ‘clear implication’ he was the abuser. 

Debbie Debowski, a member of fan group the ‘Johnny Depp Culprits’, flew in from Houston.

The two actors were brought into the courthouse in secrecy after Judge Penney Azcarate (pictured) ordered deputies to stop the proceedings becoming a media circus

‘I want Johnny to know how much his fans love him. He’s just a normal guy, he’s gentle and sweet. It’s inconceivable that he could behave the way Amber said he did.’

Natasha Miller drove from Reno, Nevada to hear the Pirates of the Caribbean actor speak in person.

‘He’s lost work, people’s perception of him has changed,’ she told DailyMail.com.

‘I don’t think that he did the things that she said he did. I don’t buy it. I’ve heard the audio tapes, she straight up admits hitting him.

‘I’ll be here until the trial is over. He’s the chief, I’ll go where the chief goes. He’s been my favorite everything for 28 years, ever since I saw him in Benny & Joon. He’s a brilliant man.’

Kayla Gauthier, 19, travelled to the trial with her mom to join a crowd of around 30 supporters.

‘He’s my favorite person. I was raised on his films. He’s my hero,’ she beamed, proudly showing off her Edward Scissorhands t-shirt.

The couple’s attorneys will make their opening statements tomorrow morning after a jury of seven people and four alternatives was sworn in late Monday.

Both sides were each allowed to strike off five potential jurors from a panel of 21 before the final 11 were agreed upon.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp – whose divorce was finalized in January 2017 – are seen together in  California the previous year 

Not all the supporters were there for Johnny, one group showed up with signs of support for Amber Heard 

Fans traveled from around the country to show support for Johnny Depp, calling for ‘Justice For Johnny’ 

‘I want Johnny to know how much his fans love him. He’s just a normal guy, he’s gentle and sweet. It’s inconceivable that he could behave the way Amber said he did,’ one fan said 

‘He’s lost work, people’s perception of him has changed,’ one fan told DailyMail.com. ‘I don’t think that he did the things that she said he did. I don’t buy it. I’ve heard the audio tapes, she straight up admits hitting him’.

Amber Heard’s lawyers face Johnny Depp supporters outside Fairfax County Court as they enter court Monday

Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez had asked the pool whether any of them were members of the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment.

She also asked people about their links to the entertainment industry, law enforcement, whether they had been victims of abuse and whether they had ‘a strong opinion of people who use crude or foul language.’

Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft asked potential jurors if they had a problem believing a husband could rape or abuse his spouse and whether they felt it was OK for a person to smash things up while drunk.

‘Amber Heard has had relationships with both men and women, some would refer to this as bisexual,’ she went on, asking if anyone would have ‘difficulty’ with that. Nobody in the pool indicated an issue.

Bredehoft also asked jurors if they had opinions about the Washington Post newspaper and the Daily Mail. One woman said of the Post: ‘It just doesn’t reflect my values.’

The case resumes at 10am Tuesday.

Depp’s suit claims Heard presented the world with a ‘hoax’ account of the infamous May 21, 2016 dust up that brought the couple’s tumultuous marriage to an end, complete with faked injuries and crocodile tears.

He further alleges that his ex-wife was the actual ‘perpetrator’ of the violent bouts that scarred their relationship, including a notorious incident in Australia where she allegedly severed his finger with a vodka bottle.

Heard has countersued for $100 million, claiming vengeful Depp has waged a years-long smear campaign, using media allies and internet trolls to silence her and derail her acting career.

She stands by her claim that Depp hurled a phone in her face and viciously battered her during the fateful 2016 fight despite LAPD officers deciding there was no grounds to investigate.

The officers are among dozens of possible witnesses slated to give evidence either in person or via video link over the next six weeks, including Hollywood actors Paul Bettany, James Franco and Ellen Barkin. 

This photo shown in court from May 2016 of Amber Heard with an apparently bruised cheek, which has been referred to as an exhibit

Another photo shown to court shows a mark below her eye in an alleged attack Heard claims was her ex-husband’s final act or violence towards her

Another intriguing name is Elon Musk whom Depp has accused of having an affair with Heard while they were still married, an accusation the Space X mogul has denied.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s caustic relationship 

February 3, 2015

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard marry in a private civil ceremony at their LA home, four years after they met as co-stars on the set of The Rum Diary. The couple celebrate with a lavish reception on an idyllic private island in the Bahamas that Depp bought in 2004 for $3.6 million.

April 21, 2015

Heard breaches Australia’s biosecurity laws when she and Depp fail to declare their two Yorkshire terriers when they arrive Down Under on a private jet for the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Heard admits falsifying quarantine documents and is placed on a $1,000 one-month good behavior bond.

May 23, 2016

Heard files for divorce after 15 months of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. Four days later a judge issues a temporary restraining order against Depp over domestic violence allegations. Pictures of Heard’s alleged injuries hit the tabloids but the LAPD finds no evidence of a crime.

August 16, 2016

Depp and Heard reach a $7 million divorce settlement which the actress promises to give to charity. Their marriage was ‘intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love,’ the former lovers say in a statement. ‘There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm’.

December 18, 2018

The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Heard, an ambassador for women’s rights at for the American Civil Liberties Union, urging support for women who suffer domestic violence. ‘Two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,’ reads the headline.

March 1, 2019

Despite not being named in the article, Depp files a $50 million defamation suit in Fairfax Circuit Court, Virginia saying it implied he was an abuser and got him fired from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Depp dismisses Heard’s abuse allegations as a ‘hoax’ and claims he was actually the victim of her violence.

August 10, 2020

Heard countersues for $100 million, claiming vengeful Depp and his lawyer Adam Waldman targeted her with a vicious smear campaign, using media allies and internet trolls to amplify false stories about her and derail her acting career.

November 1, 2020

Depp faces an uphill battle to save his reputation after he loses a libel battle with a British tabloid that labeled him a ‘wife beater’. A judge in London’ s rules that The Sun’s 2018 article was ‘substantially true’ and that the father-of-two had attacked Heard a dozen times, causing her to fear for her life on three occasions.

April 11, 2022

After lengthy delays due to the Covid pandemic, the former flames finally lock horns in Fairfax County, Virginia where the Washington Post servers that published the disputed op-ed are based. The trial is expected to last six to seven weeks and celebrities tipped to give evidence include James Franco, Paul Bettany and Ellen Barkin.

But as DailyMail.com revealed last week, the world’s richest man will likely swerve proceedings because he’s not a Virginia resident and therefore can’t be compelled to give evidence.

Depp is fighting an uphill battle to salvage his reputation after Britain’s High Court ruled against him last year when he sued The Sun newspaper for calling him a ‘wife beater’.

After weeks of testimony, Mr Justice Nicol concluded that the outlet’s 2018 article was ‘substantially true’ and that the father-of-two had attacked Heard a dozen times, causing her to fear for her life on three occasions.

The London court also heard a trove of shocking texts Depp had sent to Avengers star Bettany, vowing: ‘Lets burn Amber.’

‘Let’s drown her before we burn her !!!,’ he wrote in November 2013. ‘I will fk her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.’

Sources close to Depp say he never contemplated settling or dropping the US case and is desperate for a second bite of the cherry in Virginia where the London result will be kept from jurors.

Armed with a battery of highly-paid lawyers – including Kathleen Zellner of Making a Murderer fame – he’s confident of tipping the balance with additional evidence that didn’t feature in the ‘wife beater’ case.

DailyMail.com has led the world in revealing much of the material over the past two years, from explosive audio recordings to bombshell depositions and police videos.

The cache includes bodycam footage from LAPD officers who visited the ex-couple’s LA apartment on the night of the blowout 2016 fight.

Heard claims that her ex-husband assaulted her before smashing up their $1.5 million home – but his lawyers will argue the videos don’t show any trace of damage.

Depp’s team will also cast doubt on photos of Heard’s injuries by calling upon forensic pathologists and computer experts to explain how the wounds don’t match up with the abuse described by the Aquaman actress.

And they may also confront Heard with audio recordings in which she talks about hitting Depp and questions whether anyone would believe he was a domestic violence victim.

‘I can’t promise I won’t get physical again. God I fking sometimes get so mad I lose it,’ she says in one clip, previously published by DailyMail.com.

‘Tell the world Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim too of domestic violence … see how many believe or side with you,’ she adds in a second.

Heard’s promise to give away her entire $7 million divorce settlement, splitting it between the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, will also come under the microscope.

DailyMail.com previously revealed that Depp’s lawyers subpoenaed both organizations last year to find out if they ever got the money.

They will tell jurors that the hospital got $100,000, rather than the promised $3.5 million, while the ACLU received just $450,000.

Another $500,000 came from someone named ‘Elon’, who Depp’s lawyers will say is Elon Musk.

Heard insists she will honor her pledge – but hasn’t been able to do so thus far because of the spiraling cost of her legal war with Depp.

Insiders believe the couple have each spent upwards of $20 million to date.

Depp and Heard met on the set of The Rum Diary in 2011, married four years later – then split in a little over a year amid a slew of blood curdling domestic violence allegations and tabloid headlines.

After finalizing their divorce in early 2017 the feud appeared to have fizzled until Heard published her December 2018 op-ed, headed: ‘I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.’

The article prompted Depp to file for defamation in Virginia, where the Washington Post’s servers and several of its offices are based, stating: ‘Ms. Heard is not a victim of domestic abuse; she is a perpetrator.’

Heard’s counterclaim argues that it’s both true that she suffered years of abuse at the hands of her ‘monster’ ex and that it’s her right to talk about it under the First Amendment.

Her lawyers will argue that various media statements made by Depp’s longtime ally and lawyer Adam Waldman branding her a liar and calling her claims a hoax were false, defamatory and designed to wreck her career.

She’s also accused Depp and Waldman of harassing her on Twitter, promulgating smear stories and using fake accounts and Russian ‘bots’ to amplify negative coverage, demanding twice as much in damages from her former husband.

According to confidantes it’s not about the money, however, it’s about Heard ‘reclaiming her voice’ and her ability to advocate for abuse victims.

If she succeeds, three-times Oscar-nominated Depp, the globally-famous star of more than 50 Hollywood movies grossing $10 billion, could lose his entire fortune as well as what’s left of his reputation.

But there’s no turning back now, according to his rep.

‘This case being brought to trial is proof that the court acknowledges the notable amount of preliminary wins, evidence and witnesses in support of Johnny,’ the spokeswoman said.

‘To decline the opportunity to clear one’s name and allow someone taking advantage of the system to walk away with zero repercussions would be careless and set a dangerous precedent for similar situations in the future.’

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