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The libel trial of Johnny Depp is set for a week-long hiatus after the world has listened to a parade of witnesses, including Amber Heard, in recent days.
Depp is trying to prove to a jury that the actress defamed him in an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post alleging she was a victim of domestic and emotional abuse, without specifically targeting the 58-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” star. to mention.
According to a leading entertainment lawyer, Depp’s case is not compensation for his legal team.
Daniel Gutenplan, who has represented clients on both sides of high-profile defamation cases, claims Depp still has an “uphill battle” to win his case and secure the $50 million verdict he seeks.
‘Defamation prosecutors’ have ‘an uphill battle’
“Like most defamation accusers, Depp and his team have an uphill battle and challenge to prove the case, as they must first of all prove that everything that was said [in the op-ed and Heard’s testimony] is completely false,” the media, entertainment and IP attorney told Fox News Digital.
“The Washington Post piece in question, of course, does not mention Mr. Depp by name, although his camp will argue – and I think it is a compelling argument – that a reasonable reader would assume that the article was written about Mr. Depp. But, of course, he doesn’t just not mention it, nor does it mention specific abuse cases or events, so it doesn’t say, “On this date, at this time, or in this place, this thing happened. He did this to me.’ It generally refers only to being a victim of abuse,” the lawyer added.
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‘Poke every hole’ in Heard’s testimonial
Gutenplan, who is not involved in the Depp-Heard lawsuit in Fairfax, Virginia, claimed the week-long delay couldn’t have come at a better time for Depp and his legal team, given the wild details that have emerged. It gives Depp’s team ample time to prepare for the cross-examination of Heard, 36.
“They’re going to poke every little hole in her testimony that they can, and they’re going to try to create so many inconsistencies that they’re going to (tell) the jury” if she can lie to you and misrepresent it. or her story changes in these little ways, the whole testimony is polluted. You can’t possibly believe any of it,” Gutenplan added.
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Depp said from the outset that he is filing this $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife only to “clear his name” and recoup possible earnings he lost due to Heard’s allegations in Hollywood.
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Gutenplan noted that another challenge in the case is that both central characters “play roles for a living”.
‘Another challenge for the business’
“Their [Depp team’s] strategy, as you’ve seen in public court, was to throw as much mud as possible, to discredit Ms. Heard as much as possible, and that’s what the cross-examination will be focused on,” Gutenplan, a partner at Enenstein Pham & Glass of Los Angeles, predicted.
“That’s what they’re going to ask the jury to believe. They’re going to make these little holes in the testimony and then try to tear it apart as much as possible and hope the jurors will honestly think they’re just acting. What a different challenge to the case is that we’re dealing with two people who play roles for a living, so, “Where does the truth begin and end?” gets a lot harder.”
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Gutenplan said it would be unwise to jump to conclusions at this stage of the process, which would be like “taking a look in the mirror when you’re halfway through the cutting process.”
Depp legal team ‘knows how to try this case’
“Truth, as we know, is an absolute defense against a defamation allegation. So if Ms. Heard can show that she is a victim of abuse – even if we assume for the sake of argument that she was talking about Johnny Depp – then he wouldn’t be able to win his claim,” the Gutenplan explained.
He added that Depp’s legal team “knows how to handle this case” because “they know where they are weak, they know where they are strong.”
†[Heard’s] direct testimony in the last day and a half in court I found it compelling,” Gutenplan said last week. “Clearly she gave repeated details and dates and examples and events and claimed witnesses who can corroborate these events and quite significant, obscene cases of abuse.
“I mean, we’re talking serious stuff here. Not that all domestic violence or abuse of any kind isn’t serious. But I think at least her story definitely takes it to another level.”
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‘Burden of proof’
“So let’s withhold the burden of proof here,” Gutenplan added. “Johnny is the plaintiff. He has to prove through a preponderance of the evidence and convince the jurors that this literally didn’t happen. It’s one thing if the jurors think Ms Heard is embellishing a piece of this or maybe it didn’t go very well as it happened. But to win he would have to convince a jury that it is all made up, that it is all made up.”
During her first testimony, Heard described an alleged sexual assault that took place during a three-day fight between the pair in Australia in 2015.
Depp’s team has vehemently denied that he ever sexually assaulted Heard.
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A Depp spokesperson said in a statement that Heard “has indeed delivered the performance of a lifetime in her direct investigation”.
“While Ms. Heard’s stories continued to gain new and helpful details, Mr. Depp’s memories have remained exactly the same during the six agonizing years since her first accusations,” the spokesperson said. “His truth – the truth – is the same regardless of the setting in which it is presented. The forthcoming cross-examination of Mr. Depp’s team will be the most telling and will certainly highlight the many fallacies that Ms. Heard has now attempted pass as fact in her convoluted testimony.”
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A cross-examination of Heard’s claims will begin when the court reconvenes on May 16 at 9:00 a.m. ET.