Judge denies Amber Heard’s attempt to dismiss Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit

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A judge on Tuesday allowed Johnny Depp to move forward with his defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, after the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star ended his case.

Heard’s lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that Depp had not presented his case as a matter of law and that no reasonable jury could find in his favor.

But the judge, Penney Azcarate, said the standard for dismissing a case at this point in the trial is extremely high, and the case should be allowed to proceed if Depp has provided even a “scintilla” of evidence to support his claims.

The trial moves forward Tuesday afternoon with Heard’s team beginning to present their witnesses after more than three weeks of testimony from Depp’s witnesses, including four days on the stand from Depp himself.

Depp and his lead attorney, Benjamin Chew, patted each other on the back after the judge ruled the case can proceed.

Chew argued that the jury has a great deal of evidence to conclude that Heard falsely accused Depp of abuse. In fact, she said, the evidence shows that “Ms. Heard physically abused him. She is the abuser.”

Heard’s attorney, J. Benjamin Rottenborn, said the evidence is clear over the past three weeks of testimony that Heard’s abuse allegations are true.

“We haven’t gotten around to presenting our case yet,” he said. “This is all the evidence that has come in while the plaintiff controls the playing field.”

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million in Fairfax County Circuit Court after Heard wrote a December 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The article never mentions Depp by name, but Depp’s lawyers say he was defamed anyway because it’s a clear reference to abuse allegations Heard made in 2016, in the midst of the couple’s divorce proceedings. .

The judge said Tuesday she is reserving judgment on whether the headline of the article in the online editions should be part of the defamation suit because she said the evidence is unclear at this point whether Heard wrote the headline or is responsible for it. . The online headline reads: “Spoke out against sexual violence and faced the wrath of our culture. That has to change.”

Among Depp’s last witnesses on Tuesday morning was Erin Falati, a private nurse at Heard. She testified in a recorded statement that she received photos of Heard with red marks on her face on the night of May 21, 2016. That is the night of a final fight between Depp and Heard that precipitated Heard’s divorce filing a few days later and its May 27. appearance in a Los Angeles courthouse, with red marks on his face, seeking a restraining order.

Depp has said that Heard faked the bruises and submitted testimony from police officers who saw no marks on Heard’s face when they called authorities the night of the fight. But the photos texted to Falati, which were seen by the jury, could contradict the perception of the officers.

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