Depp is suing Aquaman star Heard for defamation for $50 million for alleged false domestic abuse claims she made against him that he says hurt his career. Heard is counter-suing Depp, also for defamation, for $100 million.
During the trial, which is unfolding in Fairfax, Virginia, and being live-streamed on the Law & Crime Network, Azcarate said she reviewed all the paperwork in the case Monday night and is ruling to let the case proceed. She struck all the motions presented by Heard’s lawyer, Benjamin Rottenborn, except for one, which she is keeping under advisement.
Rottenborn had previously argued that Heard, who is listed in the byline of the 2018 Washington Post op-ed at the center of the case, did not write the headline of the article.
In the article in question, Heard describes herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Heard doesn’t name Depp in the article, but Depp claims the piece nevertheless implied him as the abuser. Heard made previous domestic abuse allegations against Depp in 2016, something he says is referenced in the article.
Benjamin Chew, Depp’s lawyer, countered Rottenborn’s motion for dismissal, arguing several credible witnesses have backed Depp’s claims of defamation. Chew cited a previous court case that utilized a “theory of defamation by implication.”
Chew also called Heard’s divorce settlement a “scam,” referencing the fact that a representative for the American Civil Liberties Union earlier testified a charity donation Heard pledged for $3.5 million — which she claimed to be from her settlement — was not fulfilled to completion. Only $1.3 million had been received by the organization, according to testimony.
In terms of the motion Azcarate is keeping under advisement, the judge explained that since the piece of evidence has not been submitted in the trial yet, she is waiting for that submission to make a determination. The piece of evidence in question seems to center around Heard retweeting a link on Twitter, according to Rottenborn, which he argues is not actionable, citing a previous court precedent.
Earlier Tuesday, an economic damages examiner testified that following the 2018 op-ed, Depp’s financial losses were allegedly about $40 million.
Last week, Depp wrapped up his four-day-long testimony. Tuesday represents Depp’s team resting its case, with Heard’s team now slated to begin their case against Depp. Should the trial proceed as planned, Heard is expected to take the stand, as well, sometime this week.