Johnny Depp's Lawyers Insist Social Media Didn't Sway Jury and Verdict Didn't Hurt #MeToo Movement
By Jessica Vacco-Bolaños
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Johnny Depp's attorneys, Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez, gave two morning show interviews on Wednesday.
The lawyers spoke with Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos in one of their first interview since the actor won his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard. Chew and Vasquez addressed the attention the case received on social media and responded to Heard's team calling the victory a step back for women's rights.
Throughout the lengthy trial, there was no shortage of attention on social media, which Stephanopoulos quickly asked Chew and Vasquez about.
"My view is that social media played no role whatsoever," Chew responded. "This was a decision made by the jury on the evidence presented by both sides, and as Camille said, it was overwhelmingly in Mr. Depp's favor."
Stephanopoulos later asked the two their thoughts on Heard's team calling their appearance on the talk show a "victory lap for setting back decades of how women can be treated in the courtroom." Vasquez called the comments "disappointing."
"We're only speaking about what happened in this case," she explained. "And the facts in this case were overwhelmingly positive for Johnny and the verdict speaks for itself."
Stephanopoulos went on to bring up the criticism from victims’ advocate groups’ which are that the verdict of this case will have “a chilling effect on domestic violence victims and it’s a blow to the #MeToo movement."
"I think our response to that is we encourage any victim to come forward,” Vasquez replied. "Domestic violence doesn’t have a gender ... We do not [think this has any negative impact to the #MeToo movement]. We believe that the verdict speaks for itself, the facts are what they were, the jury made a unanimous decision based on those facts."
In terms of Depp's monetary gain from his win, Chew told GMA that this case "was never about money for Mr. Depp ... this was about restoring his reputation — and he’s done that. It was a total win for Johnny."
Chew and Vasquez later sat down for an interview on the Today show where they shared a similar response when asked about the backlash Depp's victory has received and how social media played a role in it.
"No, I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that the jurors violated their oath” Chew said of the impact of social media. “And again, that suggestion was disappointing to hear [from Heard’s lawyer].”
The six-week trial came to an end last week with the jury unanimously deciding that Depp was defamed by the 36-year-old actress and that Heard "acted with actual malice." Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, though his punitive damages were reduced to $350,000 in accordance with the state's statutory cap.
Depp first filed his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard in March 2019 in response to an op-ed his ex wrote for the Washington Postin 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 year.
Depp was "over the moon" at the jury's decision, Chew explained on GMA. "It was like the weight of the world had been taken off his shoulders and I feel like finally after six years, he's gotten his life back."
Following his legal victory, Depp joined TikTok with a message to his "loyal and unwavering supporters."
To all of my most treasured, loyal and unwavering supporters. We’ve been everywhere together, we have seen everything together. We have walked the same road together. We did the right thing together, all because you cared. And now, we will all move forward together. You are, as always, my employers and once again I am whittled down to no way to say thank you, other than just by saying thank you. So, thank you. My love & respect, JD
"We’ve been everywhere together, we have seen everything together. We have walked the same road together. We did the right thing together, all because you cared," he wrote. "And now, we will all move forward together. You are, as always, my employers and once again I am whittled down to no way to say thank you, other than just by saying thank you. So, thank you. My love & respect, JD."
Heard spoke out via her spokesperson on Tuesday in response to Depp's new social media account.
"As Johnny Depp says he's 'moving forward,' women's rights are moving backward," Heard's spokesperson said in a statement to ET. "The verdict's message to victims of domestic violence is...be afraid to stand up and speak out."
A spokesperson for the actress also addressed Depp's lawyers appearing on two morning shows on Wednesday, telling ET in a statement, "It is as unseemly as it is unprofessional that Johnny Depp's legal team has chosen to do a victory lap for setting back decades of how women can be treated in the courtroom. What’s next? A movie deal and merchandising?"