Sick of reading about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard? Well, you’d better get used to it, because their legal war is set to rumble on for most of 2021. After Depp’s catastrophic defeat in the British High Court, the pendulum has apparently begun to swing in Heard’s favor. He was denied permission to appeal by Mr. Justice Nicol, though we currently await the result of his direct application to the Court of Appeal itself. Legal observers say this avenue is most likely doomed, but we should know for sure fairly soon.
Over on this side of the pond, meanwhile, Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia over a Washington Post op-ed she wrote about her experience as a victim of domestic violence. In response, she filed a $100 million counterclaim, alleging defamation and that Depp was responsible for a social media effort to tarnish her career by getting her booted off Aquaman 2 and sacked as a L’Oreal spokeswoman.
Now, Fairfax County Judge Bruce White has refused Depp’s bid to have Heard’s claim thrown out, saying:
“In light of the #MeToo Movement and today’s social climate, falsely claiming abuse would surely ‘injure [Ms. Heard’s] reputation in the common estimation of mankind. … Therefore, this Court finds that the statements contain the requisite ‘sting’ for an actionable defamation claim.”
But it’s not all bad news for Johnny. Judge White also ruled that Heard’s claims of a directed social media campaign cannot be proven, explaining:
“The pleading fails to demonstrate that the social media accounts communicated obscene language, suggested obscene acts, or threatened illegal or immoral acts.”
So, where are we now? Well, Depp and Heard’s respective cases are scheduled to take place sometime in early 2021. However, there’s a chance that COVID-19 could delay the process or that Heard’s team will apply for an adjournment due to the impending Aquaman 2 shoot. And though the social media allegations are now not under contention, Depp may still face a whopping legal bill of $100 million if a judge agrees that statements calling her “fake” and her story a “sexual violence hoax” constitute libel.
Whether you’re a diehard Johnny Depp fan or an Amber Heard stan, let’s hope the wheels of justice spin fast on these cases.