Johnny Depp makes an unfavorable decision on jury guidelines – The Hollywood Reporter
The jurors in the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial will not consider whether Adam Waldman, Depp’s former attorney, who has been prosecuted in the case, was protected free speech when whether he made alleged defamatory statements against Heard.
In a crucial ruling on grand jury guidelines, the judge overseeing the case sided with Heard’s attorney on Thursday that Waldman was not eligible for the privilege, a protection from fraud. defamation, because his statements did not respond to anything Heard said or wrote. A ruling the other way could lead to jurors outright dismissing Heard’s $100 million counterclaim against Depp.
Waldman, in addition to Heard and Depp, was the central figure of the trial. Heard has claimed that Depp, through Waldman, smeared her by calling accusations of abuse against her a hoax.
Ben Rottenborn, representing Heard, said of Waldman that it was not possible to “defend oneself through judicial immunity claims in a lawsuit that allows someone to come out and say whatever what they want. He called Waldman – removed from the case for leaking information under a protective order to the press – as Depp’s “attack dog”.
When asked about Heard’s claims that Waldman was responding to grant him privilege protection, a lawyer for Depp pointed to an article in Sun that called the actor a “wife beater”.
“They must be Miss Heard’s statements,” said Justice Penney Azcarate of Fairfax County Court.
Challenges will be decided according to the instructions of the judges. They tell jurors how they should apply legal standards, handle certain evidence, and consider objections, among other things. Jury guidelines can become hotly contested, especially during a lengthy trial with dozens of witnesses and exhibits.
Depp argued that the question of whether Waldman qualifies for the privilege should be decided by a jury. Under defamation laws, people can ask for a defense if they are sued for defamation to respond to an alleged defamation statement from someone else.
Samuel Moniz, representing Depp, said, “The statements are clearly a direct response to Ms. Heard’s allegations on their faces. Whether that answer is fair and reasonable is a question of the jury. ”
Azcarate initially sided with Depp. Disagreeing with Heard’s attorneys on whether the matter was a matter of law, she said the question revolved around “whether or not any of the evidence the jury had can be found [of Waldman’s statements] speech is being protected. ”
The judge added, “I don’t think it’s my role to weigh that evidence.”
The discussion turned when Azcarate pressed Depp’s attorney about specific statements from Heard to which Waldman responded. In the end, she declined to provide jury instructions at Depp’s request, insisting that the privilege could only be claimed without genuine malice.
“The only way to find defamatory statements in this case is if there was genuine malice,” Azcarate said. “It’s unique to this case, and I understand that. But if they find real malice in the defamatory statements, then you don’t have protected speech privileges anyway.”
In order for her to prevail in her counterclaim, Heard must prove that Waldman made the alleged defamation statements with genuine malice or knew that he knew his claims were lies. .
In another ruling on jury guidelines, the judge agreed with Depp’s attorneys that jurors should be asked not to draw inferences from their objections during Waldman’s impeachment. disqualify.
“To be fair, you want to keep [the objections] in,” Azcarate told Rottenborn. “You want to leave them to show that you asked the question and they didn’t get an answer. But you can’t infer from that, “Oh, they’re hiding something.”
During his removal, Waldman asserted the attorney-client privilege not to answer questions to support claims that he made the alleged defamatory statements on behalf of Depp.
The judge also allows jurors to award damages if necessary.
Before the jury’s instructions were discussed, Heard on Thursday returned to the stands as the final witness in the trial. She testified to the extent to which Waldman’s alleged defamatory statements continued to damage her career.
“If I was practicing for a fight scene for Aquaman and a trigger happens, I have a crisis and have to deal with that,” Heard said. “The crew I work with has to deal with that, because of the damage I commute every day from what I’ve been through.”
When asked when cross-checking whether she was surprised at the number of people who have testified in favor of Depp, Heard replied: “That’s why I wrote this article. Because I’m talking to that phenomenon – how many people will support him and won’t fault his strength. ”