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Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial heads to jury deliberations

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The defamation trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard headed to its final stretch as the jury began deliberations. The jury got the case Friday afternoon, after nearly the entire morning was devoted to closing arguments. The video above includes clips from closing arguments.

Lawyers for Depp, who is suing Heard for defamation, said Heard “ruined his life by falsely telling the world she was a survivor of domestic abuse.” They emphasized that “this case … is about Mr. Depp’s reputation and freeing him from the prison in which he has lived for the last six years.”

“You have been entrusted with a serious task. What is at stake in this trial is a man’s good name,” Depp lawyer Camille Vasquez said. “Even more than that, what is at stake at this trial is a man’s life, the life that he lost when he was accused of a heinous crime and the life he could live when he is finally vindicated.”

Heard’s lawyers, meanwhile, said Depp ruined Heard’s life by launching a smear campaign against her following their divorce and her accusation.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let me be very clear. If Amber was abused by Mr. Depp even one time, then she wins. One time,” Heard attorney Benjamin Rottenborn said. “And we’re not just talking about physical abuse. We’re talking about emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse. That’s what we’re talking about.”

The seven-person civil jury began its deliberations at 3 p.m. Friday and finished for the day about two hours later. They will resume Tuesday.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Virginia’s Fairfax County Circuit Court over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His lawyers say he was defamed by the article even though it never mentioned his name.

During deliberations, the jury will have to focus not only on whether Depp abused Heard, but also whether the op-ed can be considered legally defamatory. The article itself focuses mostly on policy questions of domestic violence, but Depp’s legal team pointed to two passages in the article, as well as an online headline they say defamed Depp.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Penney Azcarate, Judge: “All right, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve now heard all the evidence in the case. Before the lawyers make their closing arguments the court will instruct you on the instructions of law that you are to apply in deciding this case.”

Camille Vasquez, lawyer for Johnny Depp: “On May 27th 2016, Miss Heard walked into a courthouse in Los Angeles, California, to get a no notice ex party restraining order against Mr Depp and in doing so, ruined his life by falsely telling the world that she was a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of Mr. Depp. Today, on May 27th, 2022, exactly six years later, we ask you to give Mr Depp his life back by telling the world that Mr Depp is not the abuser Miss Heard said he is. And hold Miss Heard accountable for her lies.”

“You have been entrusted with a serious task. What is at stake in this trial is a man’s good name. Even more than that, what is at stake at this trial is a man’s life, the life that he lost when he was accused of a heinous crime and the life he could live when he is finally vindicated.”

Benjamin Rottenborn, attorney for Amber Heard: “Ladies and gentlemen, let me be very clear. If Amber was abused by Mr. Depp even one time, then she wins. One time. And we’re not just talking about physical abuse. We’re talking about emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse. That’s what we’re talking about.”

“I’d ask you to keep this in mind as well. It’s not about who’s the better spouse. It’s not about whether you think Miss Heard may have been abusive to Mr. Depp. It’s not because, remember, if you think that they were both abusive to each other, and that’s what their witness, Laurel Anderson, testified to, then Amber wins. They’re trying to trick you into thinking that Amber has to be perfect in order to win.”