The explosive libel trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is taking place outside of its normal Hollywood orbit: in a court in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife alleges that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published on washington post titled “I spoke out against sexual violence — and faced the wrath of our culture. That has to change.”
The trial is taking place in Fairfax because the online edition of The charge is published through servers in the county, allowing Mr. Depp to sue her in that area.
According to the Associated Press, Heard’s attorneys tried to have the trial moved to California, but Depp’s attorneys said one of the reasons they decided to sue in Virginia was because of the state’s anti-SLAPP legislation, which is not as broad. like in California.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. “The anti-SLAPP laws are intended to provide a remedy for SLAPP lawsuits. Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to prevent people from using the courts and the potential threats of a lawsuit to intimidate people exercising their First Amendment rights,” according to the Committee on Reporters.
In her 2018 opinion piece, Ms. Heard wrote in part that “like many women, she had been sexually harassed and assaulted when she was of college age. But I kept quiet, I did not expect to file complaints to do justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.”
“Then two years ago I became a public figure representing domestic abuse and felt the full force of our culture’s anger at women speaking out,” she added at the time.
While Mr. Depp is not mentioned in the article, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr. Depp is seeking compensation of “not less than $50 million”.
Ms. Heard has filed a $100 million counterclaim against Mr. Depp for nuisance and immunity from his accusations.