The sixth week of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial got underway in Fairfax, Virginia this morning.
Heard’s team is expected to rest their case by Friday, and the jury could begin deliberating as soon as the Tuesday after Memorial Day. As is the case in all high-profile trials, the jury was instructed at the outset to avoid any media coverage of the case, but that might have been an impossible demand given the intense public scrutiny that’s been paid to this latest battle in the never-ending war between Depp and Heard.
Americans don’t agree on much these days, but strangely, it seems that the court of public opinion has reached a consensus in this instance. Last week, we reported on the amount of hate that Heard is receiving on social media. There seem to be several factors at play here, not the least of which is the fact that Heard has admitted to punching and kicking Depp over the course of their brief marriage.
But the contempt for Heard seems to have more to do with public relations than with the facts of the case. The shocking allegations she’s made on the stand — including claims that Depp sexually assaulted her with a glass bottle — seem to have made no impact on her critics, many of whom believe that Heard is simply lying. This is the rare trial in which public sentiment is almost as important as what the jury decides, as it will determine if either Depp or Heard is able to continue working in Hollywood.
And over the weekend, Team Depp scored another social media in the form of an endorsement from a group that was founded with the goal of protecting abused women and children. Mission NGO, is Italian-based organization fronted by former Miss Italy Valeria Altobelli. As first reported by TMZ, the group spokeout in Depp’s defense on their latest Instagram Story. The post read:
“In deep respect of the victims of domestic abusers that we have to affirm for intellectual honesty are, generally, WOMEN, we feel to express, as women, as mothers, as free thinkers, our compassion for Johnny Depp in this bad page of his personal history,”
The reaction from followers seems to have been overwhelmingly positive. One follower wrote:
“Thank you thank you for speaking out about Johnny,”
Another commenter added:
“Thank you for standing against domestic violence of any kind, regardless of gender, religion, age, etc. Thank you! Sincerely, a victim of DV,”
Those sentiments were echoed on Twitter where #MenToo became a trending topic on Sunday. One person tweeted:
“Female abusers now being referred to as ‘imperfect victims’ is the most offensive bullsh-t I’ve seen across this trial tbh,”
“This is a message for all the men out there: If your significant other is backing up and excusing Amber Heard’s behavior, get the hell out of that relationship,”
A third chimed in:
“Amber Heard’s new PR team is really putting in the work. It’s like they didn’t consider how many of us are watching every minute of this trial. Many people once believed her. She ruined that, consequently causing damage to ‘believe all women.'”
Depp’s legal team is still very much fighting an uphill battle. They have to prove not only that Heard lied in her 2018 Washington Post essay, but also that those lies damaged Depp’s career to the tune of $50m million.
Defamation is tough to prove under any circumstances, and Depp’s team as the additional challenge of proving that Heard’s article was about him, as she never mentioned her ex by name. But it seems clear that Depp has had a much easier time convincing the public that he’s the aggrieved party here. And they may have been his primary objective all along.