FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A jury ended a second day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict in the defamation allegations of Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard over their unstable and unhappy marriage.
The seven-person civil jury heard oral argument on Friday and deliberated for about two hours before heading out for the Memorial Day long weekend. Jurors then deliberated for another seven hours on Tuesday. They are due to resume deliberations Wednesday in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, accusing her of defaming him with a 2018 op-ed she wrote describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic violence.” Heard has filed a $100 million counterclaim against the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star after his attorney called his claims a hoax. Each accuses the other of destroying his career.
Testimony during the six-week trial presented a litany of grim details about their short marriage. Heard testified that Depp physically or sexually assaulted her more than a dozen times. During his testimony, Depp said he never hit Heard, that she concocted the abuse allegations, and that she was the one who physically attacked him on multiple occasions.
During closing arguments, both sides told the jury that a verdict in their favor would bring their clients back to life.
On Tuesday, Depp’s attorneys asked Judge Penney Azcarate to order the jury to disregard part of Heard’s attorney’s closing argument.
In their written motion, Depp’s attorneys said Heard’s attorney told the jury his decision in the case would send a message to “all victims of domestic violence everywhere.” Heard’s attorney, Benjamin Rottenborn, told the jury that a decision against Heard “sends the message that no matter what you do as a victim of abuse, you always have to do more.”
“No matter how honest you are about your own imperfections and your own shortcomings in a relationship, you have to be perfect for people to believe you. Don’t send that message,” Rottenborn said.
Depp’s attorneys argued that Rottenborn’s argument improperly instructed the jury to focus on a larger social purpose than the case they were asked to decide.
“Such an argument by Ms. 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,” argued Depp’s lawyers.
The judge told Depp’s lawyers in court that she would not accept the motion because the case is now in the hands of the jury.
A public relations firm for Heard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the motion.