Depp v Heard week three recap: points to note before Amber Heard begins her testimony
While the case is grounded in defamation, subsequent allegations of abuse have been made on both sides in a case that is fast becoming one of the most high profile legal battles in modern history.
Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard for $50 million on the grounds that the actor’s reputation and career suffered following a 2018 op-ed written for the Washington Post. Though he was not explicitly named, his ex-wife wrote that she was a victim of domestic abuse and Depp’s counsel are arguing that this constitutes “defamation by implication”.
Heard is counter-suing for $100 million, arguing that Depp and his legal team defamed her in their statements that her allegations were an “abuse hoax”. She claims that Depp “authorised and conspired” with his counsel in order to “attempt to destroy and defame Ms Heard in the press”.
The article that started it all
This week, the court heard from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spokesperson Terence Dougherty, an organisation of which Amber Heard was an ambassador. Mr Dougherty testified that it was actually an ACLU staff member who wrote a first draft of the article, and that ACLU, Heard’s legal team, and Heard herself reviewed the article numerous times to ensure it did not breach the non-disclosure agreement signed as part of their divorce.
The op-ed, entitled ‘I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change’, was published roughly a week after the release of Aquaman. It was said that this was done in order to “capitalise on the tremendous campaign” for the film, in which Heard co-starred.
Having pledged to split her $7m divorce settlement between the ACLU and an LA children’s hospital, the court heard that ACLU has so far only received $1.3 million, the last contribution of which had been made in 2018. It was also said (though not confirmed) that $500,000 of the $1.3 million was paid by Elon Musk.
Security guard Malcolm Connolly
Appearing via video link, Malcolm Connolly detailed his account of what happened in Australia, where Depp had severed his finger during an altercation with Heard. He testified that it was “chaos” and that Heard was “screaming” and calling Depp a “f***ing coward”. He says he drove Depp to his own apartment and later they went to hospital.
“His finger was a mess”, he said, recalling that he could see bone and it was “smashed to bits”, likening it to a cartoon exploding cigar. While Connolly tells the court he never saw sign of physical injury on Heard, he said that he had seen scratches, a fat lip, or bruising around the eye socket on Depp.
“It was getting more regular. Not every week but it was definitely happening,” he said.
Chauffeur and assistant Starling Jenkins III
Chauffeur Jenkins told the court that he had witnessed arguments take place between the couples when they were in the car. He testified that on two separate occasions, an argument would be “initiated by her, she would try to engage with him, he would tell me to turn the music up.”
When asked about the morning after Heard’s 30th birthday, Jenkins said that she told him she had “got in a fight with Johnny” and had thrown his belongings across the balcony, including “everything that’s in his wallet.” Using Find My Phone, he tracked Depp’s phone about six miles from the house, in Skid Row.
Next week, Amber Heard is expected to take to the stand for the first time during the trial. The trial is being broadcast live on Youtube via the Law & Crime Network.