The verdict was announced Wednesday following a six-week trial in Virginia.
The jury in Johnny Depp's defamation trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, has reached a verdict. After deliberating for around 14 hours across three days, the jury decided in unanimous fashion that Depp was defamed by Heard and that she "acted with actual malice," bringing the six-week long case to an end.
Just minutes before the verdict was set to be read, Judge Penney Azcarate sent the jury back to fill out the damages section, adding even more suspense on Wednesday in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia. In the end, the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Depp's punitive damages, however, were reduced by Azcarate to $350,000 in accordance with the state's statutory cap.
Heard, for her part, was awarded $2 million by the jury in compensatory damages for her counterclaim but nothing in punitive damages. The jury found Depp liable after his attorney referred to Heard's claims as a "hoax."
Heard and her legal team were in attendance when the verdict was read but Depp was not present. She released a statement following the verdict saying, "The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I'm heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband. I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated."
She added, "It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously. I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK. I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American -- to speak freely and openly.”
After the verdict was announced, Heard was seen walking out of the courthouse with her sister, Whitney, and they both got into a waiting pickup truck without addressing reporters. Meanwhile, Depp's lawyers -- Camille Vasquez and Ben Chew -- were met with cheers as they exited the courthouse. They also each gave a brief statement but answered no questions from reporters.
"Today's verdict confirms what we have said from the beginning -- that the claims against Johnny Depp are defamatory and unsupported by any evidence," Vasquez said. "We are grateful, so grateful, for the jury and for their careful consideration."
Chew followed Vasquez and said, "Our judicial system is predicated on each person's right to have his or her case heard and we were honored, truly honored, to assist Mr. Depp in ensuring that his case was fairly considered throughout the trial," he said. "We were also most pleased that the trial has resonated for so many people and the public who value truth and justice. Now that the jury has reached its conclusive verdict, it's time to turn the page and look to the future."
Prior the announcement, a source close to Depp said that "due to previously scheduled work commitments made before the trial," Depp wouldn't be physically present in the courthouse for the announcement and he would be watching from the UK.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Heard said, "Your presence shows where your priorities are. Johnny Depp plays guitar in the UK while Amber Heard waits for a verdict in Virginia. Depp is taking his snickering and lack of seriousness on tour."
Heard's spokesperson is referring to the Pirates of the Caribbean star making a surprise appearance Sunday at a Jeff Beck concert in England. Then, on Tuesday, Depp was seen partying with Tom Jones. The actor is also a notable guitarist, and is a member of the band Hollywood Vampires, alongside Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.
Meanwhile, the judge granted Heard's request that the court seal the identities of the jurors for one year. The identity of the jurors -- comprised of six men and three women -- will be sealed "due to the high profile nature of this case." That being said, the jury can identify themselves and/or hold a news conference if they so choose to.
Depp first filed his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard in March 2019, in response to an op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post in December 2018 about being the victim of domestic violence. The article itself did not mention Depp by name, though, their contentious 2016 divorce had been in the news over the previous two years.
In the suit, Depp claimed that Heard's allegations of abuse against him were an "elaborate hoax." Depp alleges the op-ed caused damage to his career. He says he was dropped from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise four days after the op-ed was published.
Heard countersued Depp for $100 million, claiming that the actor's lawyer's "hoax" claim harmed her career and reputation. Last week, Depp's legal team filed a motion to have Heard's suit dismissed but the judge denied the motion.
The case finally got under way on April 11. Since then, each side brought forward a parade of witnesses to testify on each of their behalf. Most notably, Depp's ex-girlfriend, Kate Moss, appeared via video link as a rebuttal witness for Depp's team after Heard brought up Moss' name during her court testimony.
Moss, who appeared from Gloucester, England, via video, denied any allegation that Depp pushed her down stairs during the course of their relationship, specifically, during a stay with the actor at the GoldenEye resort in Jamaica. When asked what happened, the model testified that she fell after a rainstorm and hurt her back.
"We were leaving the room and Johnny left the room before I did and there had been a rainstorm and as I left the room," Moss said. "I slid down the stairs and I hurt my back. And I screamed because I didn't know what had happened to me and I was in pain and he came running back to help me and carried me to my room and brought me medical attention."
Meanwhile, Heard claimed while on the witness stand that she suffered brutal attacks allegedly at the hands of Depp. She claimed Depp physically assaulted her on a number of occasions and that he allegedly performed a cavity search on her.
Heard also recalled a July 2013 incident in which she claimed Depp threatened he could "kill" her after she claimed he grew furious for "telling on him" to his kids that he had fallen off the wagon and started drinking again. She also claimed Depp once threatened to carve up her face with a broken glass bottle of liquor and allegedly penetrated her with it.
Heard's sister, Whitney Henriquez, also took the stand and alleged the actor turned violent against her.
Another one of Depp's exes, Ellen Barkin, testified via a deposition and claimed the actor was "jealous" and "controlling."
For his part, Depp had maintained he never laid a finger on Heard.
"I have never in my life committed sexual battery, physical abuse. All these outlandish, outrageous stories of me committing these things and living with it for six years and waiting to be able to bring the truth out," Depp said. "So, this is not easy for any of us. I know that. No matter what happens, I did get here and I did tell the truth. And I have spoken up for what I've been carrying on my back reluctantly for six years."
Before leaving the witness stand for good, Heard claimed the trial had taken a toll on her, and simple things like just arriving to court proved exhausting and difficult.
"Even just walking into this courtroom, sitting here in front of the world, having the worst parts of my life used to humiliate me," Heard claimed. "People want to kill me and they tell me so every day. People want to put my baby in the microwave and they tell me that. Johnny threatened, promised me that if I ever left him, he'd make me think of him every single day I lived." Back in July 2021, the actress revealed she welcomed a baby girl, Oonagh Paige Heard, via surrogate.
Depp previously lost his libel case against The Sun in the U.K. back in 2020, after a judge ruled that the outlet proved that what it published was "substantially true." The Sun had published a story calling Depp a "wife beater" after claiming he physically assaulted Heard. Depp denied the allegation.