Six weeks into the court battle, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are awaiting the jury’s verdict. The people chosen to decide the actor’s defamation case against the ex-wife and the actress’s counter-suit will be appealed on Tuesday. How many of them are there, what questions did they hear before they got to the jury and what exactly should they decide?
The trial between Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard is drawing to a close. Final speeches were given on Friday. Defense lawyers called for the actor to restore his reputation by ruling, and Heard’s lawyers demanded that jurors recognize her right to speak, citing freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.
It is a civil process, not a criminal one. Neither Heard nor Depp have been tried on any criminal charges. The jury held on Friday only two hours. After a long weekend in the US, it will resume its meeting on Tuesday. Case judge Benny Azcaret stated that the jury did not have time to make a decision.
Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife for defamation, demanding $50 million in damages. The film is set in the year 2018 in the Washington Post where Heard presented herself as a victim of domestic violence. She also referred to the period two years ago, i.e. the period during which she was in a relationship with an actor.
Amber Heard did not describe him by name, but the British newspaper “The Sun” called him a female boxer shortly after publication. Depp sued the tabloid, which he lost. Then he turned to the American newspaper and found that an article in the Washington Post had damaged his reputation. He had to co-star with “Fantastic Beasts” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” among others. In the following years, he did not participate in any new productions. As a result – the jury and the audience heard during the six-week trial – the actor has several million debts.
Heard filed a $100 million counterclaim, alleging defamation by calling her a fraud. One of Depp’s lawyers said that about her in the context of this case.
Who is on the jury?
Deep Heard’s trial is taking place in Virginia because the Washington Post is printed there, and the article in question was published there.
A court in this US state – in cases involving, among other things, defamation – the formation of the jury begins by sending summons to citizens from the voter lists and registered drivers who live in the area. Selected individuals then complete a questionnaire to help determine their eligibility for jury membership.
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Eligible individuals are then randomly selected and invited to appear on the jury. A US court says, “This selection process helps ensure that jurors are from a sectional background, regardless of race, gender, national origin, age or political affiliation.”
How were the jurors selected?
A summons to a jury does not guarantee that a person will be an actual member of the jury.
A Virginia court selects a group of 13 potential judges at random. Each party to the process can identify up to four people from this group. At the same time, the court may decide to appoint a so-called alternate or substitute for judges.
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In the end, the defamation trial must include at least five lay judges from the indicated group of 13. The judge and the attorneys make the selection by asking potential questions to the lay judges. In this way, they decide whether they think they are appropriate to adjudicate on a particular case. This procedure is very difficult. Its purpose is to remove anyone from the jury who may not be able to settle the case fairly.
Potential lay judges who know, have information, or may have strong biases about those involved in the case, or may have strong biases about the people or issues surrounding the case, are usually dismissed by the judge.
Lawyers can also dismiss a certain number of jurors without giving any reason.
How many jurors will Deep Heard decide? Who are the reserve jurors?
The Depp-Heard case will be adjudicated by seven people selected by the judge and both parties to the trial. At first, they were also accompanied by four “reservists”, but during the proceedings before the court, two of them had to resign from participating in the case.
A deputy or provisional judge is a juror who is elected in the same manner as a regular juror and who hears evidence with him. He does not participate in the adjudication of the case, unless he is called to replace an ordinary juror, for example when he or she has to leave the hearing for health reasons or other reasons that exclude an ordinary judge from the main group.
What questions did the jurors answer?
It only took four hours to select a group of 11 jurors for the trial, which began on April 11.
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According to Deadline Gate, prospective jurors were asked for their opinions on topics such as the #MeToo movement, domestic violence and sexual assault, alcohol and drug use, celebrity social media posts, police credibility or use of offenses. language.
One potential juror not elected after one question stated that Depp “beat (heard) and lied about various things” while another was disqualified after stating he had read Heard’s script in the “Washington Post” thinking that was a very well-written opinion.
The names of the jurors are classified
During the trial, the cameras did not show the jurors. In his final days, a sudden turn in the matter occurred, according to some media outlets. Judge Benny Azcaret said that “given the high profile nature of the case” she decided to keep their names confidential. Consequently, it agreed to Heard’s defense proposal to classify the identity of the jurors for a period of up to a year.
After this time, the court will reveal the names of all persons. At the same time, the judge did not specify whether non-specialist judges could disclose their names before the end of the year, if they wished.
Addressing them on Friday, May 27th – the final day of the trial – Judge Azcaret urged them to turn off phone notifications and try not to follow the news about Depp and Heard and the case they decide.
What will the jury decide?
After more than 100 hours of testimony, Judge Benny Azcaret instructed the jury on how to proceed during the deliberations.
In the case of Depp’s defamation lawsuit, jurors have to decide whether the Amber Heard article was misrepresented, defamed the actor, or written with malicious intent, and whether it actually refers to Depp, who did not use his name.
The actor is claiming $50 million in damages, but the jury may recommend more or less.
For Heard’s $100 million counterclaim, jurors must decide whether Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman’s statements, in which he called Heard’s words “fraud,” defamed her.
According to the American media, the jury must decide unanimously on these issues.
Reuters, “Guardian”, “Time”, npr.org, BBC, CNN, AP, TMZ, Inews, tvn24.pl
Main image source: PAP / EPA / Steve Helber / POOL