The defamation trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on Monday 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019. Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
Heard lawyer Ben Rottenborn argued that the only issue in the case is if Ms Heard can be held responsible for defamation because of her 2018 column and nothing else.
He claimed that there’s “ample evidence” that Mr Depp physically abused Ms Heard, but he noted that this notion is disputed, adding that non-physical abuse having occurred isn’t disputed.
If Mr Depp abused Ms Heard “even one time, then she wins. It’s that simple”, Mr Rottenborn said.
The lawyer made a motion to strike – requesting that the judge remove all or part of the evidence put forward by the plaintiff from the record.
He asked the court to “strike the plaintiff’s evidence and award summary judgment to Ms Heard”.
In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”.
Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.