Attorneys for Amber Heard, representing the actor against Johnny Depp‘s Virginia libel suit, today zeroed in on Depp’s drug and alcohol use as they sought to defend Heard from his allegations that she falsely portrayed him as a domestic abuser in an article she wrote published by the Washington Post in 2018.
J. Benjamin Rottenborn, an attorney from Heard’s legal team, today focused on a text exchange between Heard and Depp’s older sister, Christi Dembrowski. Reading from the transcript of the text, Rottenborn asked, “Ms. Heard says, ‘JD is on a bender,’ and your response is, ‘Where are the kids?’ — correct?”
Dembrowski answered in the affirmative and also confirmed an email she exchanged with her brother’s physician regarding pain medication. When asked if she believed that her brother required help concerning his drug and alcohol use, Dembrowski replied that she was concerned about the particular medication discussed in the email and that she did not believe Depp had a problem with substances or that he romanticized their use.
Depp’s lawsuit claims that Heard indirectly defamed him by referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” in the 2016 article. Depp has denied ever abusing Heard. Heard’s lawyers maintain that Depp is incapable of denying the allegations due to his own alleged drug and alcohol use. They claim Depp frequently drank and/or drugged to such excess he would black out and is therefore incapable of remembering any abuse that may have happened.
Heard’s team additionally claims that the actor was exercising her first amendment rights in writing the article. Depp’s team states that their client was defamed by implication when Heard identified herself as a survivor of domestic abuse and that when she wrote that she “felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she was referencing a restraining order that she sought against Depp in 2016 after he asked for a divorce.
It is not known yet whether Heard’s team will bring out further evidence, if any, to support their claims that Depp suffers from addiction or any other type of substance abuse issue which would prevent him from recalling his own behavior. In his Tuesday opening statement, Rottenborn stated that he would show evidence of Depp physically and sexually abusing Heard on multiple occasions.
Both actors are believed to be testifying at some point during the six-week trial, as are actors Paul Bettany and James Franco and businessman and entrepreneur Elon Musk. The verdict of the trial will be established by a seven-member jury that was selected on Monday.