Johnny Depp and former wife Amber Heard, who is also an actor, plan to testify in Fairfax County in person.
The long-awaited Johnny Depp defamation trial is set to begin next Monday in a Fairfax County courtroom, and the actor and his former wife Amber Heard will both testify in person.
At the trial, actors James Franco and Paul Bettany are expected to be asked to testify. The trial will also feature billionaire Elon Musk and representatives from the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., and the Los Angeles Police Department.
In 2019, Hollywood star Johnny Depp filed a defamation lawsuit against actress Amber Heard for comments she made about domestic violence in a Washington Post op-ed she wrote in 2018.
Johnny Depp was not named in Heard’s op-ed. However, he maintains that the op-ed Heard wrote harmed his career.
What is the significance of the trial, which is scheduled to begin on April 11, taking place in Fairfax County? In his defamation lawsuit against Heard, Depp filed the lawsuit in Virginia because the Washington Post publishes its online editions through servers located in Fairfax County.
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As reported by InsideNoVa, Johnny Depp lawyers also chose Virginia because its statute against SLAPPs, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, is more lenient than California’s. The anti-SLAPP laws discourage the use of lawsuits and threats of lawsuits as a means to intimidate others into giving up their First Amendment rights.
Judge Penney Azcarate, who will preside over the trial in Fairfax County, said in March that Heard’s attorneys can argue immunity if they can prove her op-ed was about a matter of public concern.
On March 29, Azcarate issued an order stating that the trial would be held in a courtroom on the fifth floor of the Fairfax County Circuit Court. A limited number of seats will be available in the courtroom for litigants, their lawyers, the media, and the public, according to the order.
The judge said the trial will be covered by a pool camera system, and media requesting access must coordinate with the pool camera representative. At least a month is expected for the trial.
The judge ordered that no overnight camping will be permitted on the Fairfax County Courthouse grounds. This includes the entire county judicial complex within the boundaries of Chain Bridge Road, Judicial Drive, and Main Street.
According to the order, “parties to this trial will not pose for pictures or sign autographs inside or outside the Courthouse.”
Heard’s attorneys are expected to call Franco and Musk to testify. Apparently, Bettany will testify for Johnny Depp after his texts with the actor were made public in one of Depp’s previous trials.
In 2016, Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp, whom she married in 2015 after meeting on the set of the film The Rum Diary. During the “entire time we were together,” Heard claimed that Depp verbally and physically abused her.
Later in 2016, Heard received a $7 million settlement. “Our relationship was intensely passionate and volatile at times, but always bound by love,” Depp said in a joint statement with Heard. “There was never any intention of physical or emotional harm.”
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Johnny Depp responded to the Washington Post op-ed by denying all of Heard’s abuse allegations. As a result of this, he filed a lawsuit against British tabloid The Sun for an article describing him as a “wife-beater” as a result of Heard’s allegations.
“These sick claims are completely false,” Depp said during the trial.
He lost the libel case after a judge ruled that what The Sun published about him in 2020 was “substantially true.”