Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard Trial: How many jury members are there and what exactly do they have to decide?
A jury made up of seven of their peers will have to decide who wronged who in the Depp versus Heard trial where both claim they were defamed by the other.
Proceedings in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard wrapped up on 27 May after six weeks of testimony that laid bare just how dysfunctional the couple was. The seven members must now deliberate on whether it was her who ruined his career prospects as he claims or vice versa.
The jurors have been instructed to answer a series of questions about the validity of the actors’ libel accusations against one another and whether either of them suffered actual career damage because of it specifically. This will be a tricky task for them to determine as evidence has been presented showing that other factors resulted in the loss of work for both.
The seven jurors determining the Depp vs Heard trial
The identity of the people who will hand down a verdict on the defamation claims won’t be made public for a year. However, Court TV has published a demographic makeup of the individuals in the jury box. The group of seven people is composed of five men and two women, with another man and woman serving as alternates.
According to the observations the jurors, they range in age from people in their twenties to a person in his sixties of varying ethnicities. During jury selection few expressed any prior knowledge of the problematic relationship between the two actors.
What has the jury been asked to decide?
On the one hand, the seven jurors have been instructed to determine if a 2018 op-ed article by Heard published in the Washington Post resulted in personal damage to the Pirates of the Carribean star. In it, she wrote about being the victim of domestic abuse and while Johnny Depp isn’t mentioned by name, he claims that the article implied it was him.
The jury must determine if three statements were indeed written by her and were about Depp. Also, if they were false and defamatory in nature as well as intentionally so that would be seen as such by someone other than Depp. Finally, they must determine if Heard published each of the statements with actual malice.
With regards to Heard’s countersuit, they must judge whether three statements made in the Daily Mail on two separate dates in April 2020 by Adam Waldman, an attorney working for Depp at the time, hurt her reputation and career by calling her accusations of abuse and sexual violence a “hoax”. The jurors must determine if the statements were made by Waldman on behalf of Depp, were false and, if so, made with actual malice.
What is at stake in the verdict?
Depp is suing his ex-wife for $50 million while Heard is asking the jury to award her $100 million but in the end it will be up to the seven individuals to decide an exact dollar amount. Testimony during the past six weeks has revealed that both actors’ careers have been damaged by their contentious relationship but tying that harm to the actual statements in question is not so straightforward.
Depp’s star was losing its shine prior to the accusations of abuse due to his unprofessional behavior on movie sets. He would frequently arrive late for filming and come unprepared without having studied the script requiring an earpiece to have them read to him.
For her part, proving that there is “clear and convincing evidence” of a direct causal link between the statements by Depp’s attorney and Heard’s diminished job prospects isn’t clear cut. Testimony during the trial revealed that Warner Bros was considering re-casting the role of Mera in Aquaman which was her big-budget film breakthrough.
The studio didn’t see chemistry between her and co-star Jason Momoa which almost saw her left out of the sequel. Only upon the insistence of the director James Wan and Momoa that she reprise her role did the studio agree.