Why did Johnny Depp lose in the UK yet win in the US in the Depp-Heard trial?
Hollywood actor Johnny Depp lost a libel action against the Sun tabloid in the United Kingdom in 2020. He did, however, win a similar lawsuit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, in a US courtroom on Wednesday.
Many legal experts predicted that Mr Depp would have a harder time winning in the United States than he did in the United Kingdom, owing to the US’s robust free speech safeguards.
The jury didn’t accept Ms Heard’s testimony when they convicted her of defamation in an essay in which she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse.
It’s “extremely exceptional,” according to Mark Stephens, an international media lawyer, that the same case is tried on both sides of the Atlantic and yields different findings.
He believes that the fact that Mr Depp’s trial in the United States was before a jury, whereas his trial in the United Kingdom, over an item in a British tabloid that labelled him a “wife-beater,” was only before a judge, played a major role in his success. Mr.
Depp’s lawyers contended that Ms Heard was lying in both the UK and the US trials, attacking her character and claiming that she was the abusive spouse in both cases. Mr.
Stephens claimed that the judge in the UK trial was aware of Mr Depp’s plan and disregarded most of the material that did not clearly address whether Mr Depp had committed assault or not.
Another significant distinction, according to Hadley Freeman, a Guardian journalist who covered both trials, is that the American trial was aired, turning the court action into “virtually a sporting event.”
Millions of people watched every twist and turn of the trial, and many of them took to social media to voice their support for Mr Depp.
On TikTok, the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp received nearly 19 billion views. The jury was not sequestered and was allowed to keep their phones despite being told not to read about the case online.
Ms Freeman also believes that the public’s venom directed at Ms Heard was “a little bit of # MeToo blowback.”