The Depp v. Heard case is a big mess

A defamation case between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard sparks controversy

Asher Hagan, Commentary Editor

On December 18, 2018, The Washington Post published an article entitled “Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” This was an op-ed article written by Heard that would not only change her life, but the life of Johnny Depp. Accused of abusing Heard in 2016, Depp is Heard’s ex husband (m. 2015-2017) and was never specifically named in the article.

Nevertheless, soon after the article was released rumors circulated the internet and Depp was quickly dropped by a lot of brands. Because of this Depp filed a defamation suit for $50 million in 2019. Heard then counter-sued Depp for $100 million on the same grounds saying that he defamed her when Depp’s lawyers said that her abuse claims were false. And, for the last three years, people have been awaiting the trial to take place. Finally, on April 12 in Fairfax, Virginia, the trial of Depp v. Heard began its first session in a long process that’s expected to take six weeks.

In my opinion, the entire trial is a mess, but then again it was always going to be a mess. It’s an expensive court case between two people suing on the grounds that they defamed each other. I think that before it even started, people were already tired of this case. I know I’m tired of listening to Heard’s lawyers.

One of Heard’s lawyer is Ben Rottenborn who is a principal attorney at Wood Rogers, a law firm based in Virginia. It is a running joke that this man’s favorite word is “hearsay” mostly because he says it all the time. Rottenborn most famously said hearsay to a witness on the stand during his own line of questioning. Because it was his line of questioning he shouldn’t have said objection and instead should have asked for the question to be stuck from the record.

In addition to this, a lot of other weird things have happened in this trial. For example, Heard was caught in a lie about using makeup to cover up the evidence of abuse that her now ex husband caused her. She said she used a color correcting kit that she called her “bruise kit” on multiple occasions from the brand Milani Cosmetics. She said that she used this product from 2012 to 2016. On the same day, Milani Cosmetics put out a video on TikTok of all places calling Heard out on a lie and saying that the product she’s talking about came out in 2017. This means that Heard would have had no way to have access to the product to cover up any alleged bruising. In addition, some people have pointed out that in the pictures of Heard’s bruised eye, it looks like the kind of bruising you would get after getting botox injections.

I honestly don’t know who is going to win this case and as of right now there are a lot of moving parts. I do think however that on the grounds of defamation Depp definitely lost a lot more than Heard. It is true that Heard played a main role in the 2018 movie Aquaman and that directors have shortened her screen time because of this situation, but I don’t think that’s because of Depp defaming her. There are recordings that have come out about Heard and Depp talking in private about the abuse that went on between them. In the recordings Heard says that she didn’t punch Depp, she just hit him. According to the ex-couple’s old marriage counselor, Heard and Depp both had bruises on them whenever they would see her. The counselor claimed that she thinks that they were mutually abusive. Heard also has a past arrest for domestic abuse with a past partner. Therefore, I think that companies aren’t avoiding Heard because she was abused, they’re doing it because the whole situation is a mess and most people are starting to believe that it was actually Heard that was abusing Depp.

I think that this case has so much wrapped into it. Not only does it touch on topics such as domestic abuse, but it also goes into the bigger topic of mental health and disorders. On April 26, a forensic psychiatrist named Shannon Curry, who was hired by Depp, testified that Heard showed no signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and instead she showed signs of two personality disorders including Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Curry came to this conclusion after spending 12 hours with Heard. Curry testified that people with BPD had the potential to seek external blame and seek attention from people. She even said that this means that Heard has the potential to be faking abuse claims.

Less than a week later, another forensic psychiatrist named Dawn Hughes, who Heard’s lawyer accidentally called Dr. Curry a couple of times on the stand, spent time with Heard and diagnosed the exact opposite of what Curry did. Hughes concluded that Heard did have PTSD and found no signs of personality disorders. Regardless of who is right I have some problems with Hughes. Hughes claims that even if Heard did abuse Depp, Heard is smaller than Depp and it is different when a smaller person hits a bigger person. She also refers to abusers as men and victims as women several times in her testimony. I have a big problem with this terminology because it perpetuates the idea that men can’t be abused, which has been proven wrong many, many times. Hughes was also was reading off a script for part of her testimony which was really weird and kind of sketchy.

There is nothing about this case that makes sense and seems logical. Celebrities have the privilege of money, and with that privilege comes the ability to do pretty much anything you want and get away with it. This includes suing people for a legitimate reason and having that person counter-sue you out of spite. In the end, I want Depp to win this case.