Johnny Depp has filed a motion to strike out part of Amber Heard’s closing argument which asked jurors to consider the “message” a ruling against her would send to other victims of domestic violence.
Lawyers for Mr Depp raised concerns about the ‘inappropriate argument’ in a filing in Fairfax County District Court on Tuesday as the jury deliberated for a second day in the couple’s defamation case .
They asked Judge Penney Azcarate to strike the argument from the record, ask the jury to disregard it, and revise the special verdict form. The judge said she would not consider the motion due to the fact that deliberation is already well underway.
In his closing defense on May 27, Ms Heard’s lawyer, Ben Rottenborn, warned that a ruling in favor of Mr Depp would make jurors an “accomplice” to his alleged abuse.
“In trying to convince you that Mr. Depp has met his burden of proof by proving that he never once abused Amber, think about the message that Mr. Depp and his attorneys are sending to Amber and by extension to every victim of domestic violence everywhere,” he said.
“If you didn’t take the picture, it didn’t happen. If you took pictures, they are fake.
“If you haven’t told your friends, you’re lying. If you told your friends that you are part of the hoax.
“If you didn’t seek medical attention, you weren’t hurt. If you’ve seen a doctor, you’re crazy.
“If you’ve done everything you can to help your spouse, the person you love, get rid of the drug and alcohol abuse that turns them into an abusive, rage-filled monster, you’re a jerk. .
“And if you’ve finally decided that enough is enough, you’ve had enough of the fear and enough of the pain and you have to leave to save yourself, you’re a gold digger.”
He warned: “This is the message Mr. Depp is asking you to send.”
Mr Rottenborn urged jurors not to be ‘complicit’ in this message and the pirate the actor’s “global shaming” campaign against his ex-wife.
In their motion to strike that argument from the record, Mr. Depp’s lawyers said that Mr. Rottenborn’s statements “misrepresented the jury’s invitation to focus on a larger social purpose beyond the [case]”, citing a 2021 decision of the 4th Circuit in Plymail vs. Mirandy.
“Such an argument by Mrs. Heard’s attorney misguides the jury to decide the case ‘on the basis of passion and prejudice’ and a specific jury instruction is necessary to remedy this impropriety,” the filing says. .
Mr Depp is suing his ex-wife, Ms Heard, for $50 million, claiming she defamed him in an op-ed for The Washington Post where she described herself as a victim of domestic violence under the title: “I spoke out against sexual violence – and I faced the wrath of our culture. This must change.
Ms Heard has sued her former husband for $100million, claiming he launched a ‘smear campaign’ against her.
Tuesday’s filing also asked the court to change part of the special verdict form with respect to Mr Depp’s affirmative claims against Ms Heard – that is, the claims jurors are considering in his case against she.
They are seeking to change a question regarding the title of his op-ed which reads “The statement was false” to “The statement about Mr. Depp was false?”