Here's why Amber Heard could win defamation trial even if the jury thinks she lied under oath

Heard's attorney Benjamin Rottenborn rattled observers during his closing argument when he offered a hypothetical about Depp's severed finger


                            Here's why Amber Heard could win defamation trial even if the jury thinks she lied under oath
Amber Heard's attorney Benjamin Rottenborn (L) told jurors only one of her abuse claims needed to be true to win the case (Law&Crime Network/YouTube)
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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are awaiting the jury verdict in their defamation case. In the meantime, fans of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star are worried his ex-wife could win the trial even if jurors think she lied.

Depp, 58, and Heard, 36, are embroiled in a $50 million defamation lawsuit after she penned an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2018, claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse. The article did not name Depp, and Heard's lawyers have said it is protected by freedom of speech, but Depp's legal team has argued that it implied Depp was the abuser and it damaged their client's acting career. Heard has countersued for $100 million, saying her ex-husband assaulted her several times during their relationship.

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The former couple, whose divorce was finalized in 2017, made a host of allegations against each other, including drug and alcohol abuse, violent confrontations, as well as a claim that Heard defecated on the couple's bed. Both, however, have denied the allegations made against them. The trial came to an end on Friday, May 27, and the seven-member jury has since been deliberating before they can deliver a unanimous verdict.

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Heard's attorney Benjamin Rottenborn caused a stir among observers during his closing argument when he offered a hypothetical referring to the exes' conflicting accounts of how Depp ended up with a severed finger. "Amber could have chopped it off with an ax and it has nothing to do with whether or not Mr Depp abused her," Rottenborn told the jury. "She didn't but it doesn't matter," he added. The attorney insisted that only one of Heard's abuse claims needed to be validated for her to win the case, adding that this could include mental, psychological, or financial abuse and that jurors needn't necessarily believe that physical abuse had taken place.

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During a discussion about the case on Twitter, one fan shared copies of a draft of the judgment in Depp and Heard's earlier court battle in the UK, in which the 'Donnie Brasco' star sued The Sun for describing him as a "wife-beater" while reporting on Heard's domestic abuse allegations. The actor lost the trial back in 2020. The fan noted that per the draft, then-presiding Judge Andrew Nicol had accepted that Heard had lied under oath during a previous legal issue in Australia when he ruled against Depp.

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Heard was embroiled in a court battle with Australian authorities for bringing the former couple's two pet dogs into the country in May 2015 without declaring them. The actress was able to avoid conviction after being charged with making a false statement on her immigration card. The 'Never Back Down' star reportedly checked "no" against the question of importing anything into the country that ought to have been declared. Under Australian law, foreign pets must be quarantined for 10 days when first brought into the country.

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Heard said that it was a misunderstanding as she had assumed her husband's assistants had made all the arrangements for them to enter the country, where Depp had been filming 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'. "The offense to which Ms Heard pleaded guilty involved knowingly making a false statement," Judge Nicol surmised in the UK trial while discussing the Australian case. "As [Australian Judge Bernadette Callaghan] said, that was not a trivial offense, but its nature is so far removed from the evidence which Ms Heard gave in this trial that its relevance for her credibility is marginal at most."

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Actress Amber Heard departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on May 27, 2022, in Fairfax, Virginia (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

 

The Twitter user, who goes by the handle @NateTheLawyer, pointed out that while Heard may have lied under oath in a previous case, it was still separate from the one being ruled on at the time.

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According to Cornell Law School, while discussing a witness's credibility, an attorney can "show jurors a witness is not credible by showing: 1) inconsistent statements, 2) reputation for untruthfulness, 3) defects in perception, 4) prior convictions that show dishonesty or untruthfulness, and 5) bias," Newsweek reported.

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