By Kaitlyn Bell
For weeks, the social media world has been transfixed with the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial. As the closing statements hit the screen on Friday, May 27, the world had been long awaiting the jury’s verdict. Starting in 2016, when Amber Heard filed for divorce and a restraining order against Johnny Depp, the story blew up causing Depp and Heard’s lives to be the center of attention and speculation for months following.
Artwork by Sabeena Ramdarie
Fans stayed amused with the case from the iconic photos of Ms. Heard and Mr.Depp's facial expressions.
In May of 2016, Heard first publicly accused Depp of domestic violence, along with filing for a restraining order under the accusation. Depp’s lawyer responded to the statement with one of his own stating that Heard was “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse.”
Heard and Depp came to an “out of court” resolution, which ultimately left Amber Heard with $7 million in their divorce settlement. Heard came to announce that she was going to donate the entirety of the $7 million to the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Many believed she did this to reinforce her claims that she didn’t want any money in the divorce, while others believed she had pure intentions in her pledge.
After their resolution, many gossip websites began to take sides and kept the hot topic alive. Depp continued working and had even begun his part in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” as Gellert Grindelwald. While this was occurring, Heard also claimed that she had been dropped from multiple projects after she made her accusations against Depp.
This claim by Heard was a minor statement as compared to the rest, which came out in the article she wrote in the Washington Post in 2018. Heard defined herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” and said that she “felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”
In the Washington Post op-ed, Heard also said that she “had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
While never directly referring to him within the op-ed, Depp’s legal team understood she was referring to their client. Depp claimed that Heard’s article cost him acting roles and had sued her in March of 2019 for $50 million for defamation.
Heard countersued Depp in January of 2021 for $100 million and claimed that he had defamed her when Depp’s legal called her a “sexual violence hoax.”
When the Depp v. Heard defamation trial began on April 1, 2022, in Fairfax County, Virginia, people all around the world glued their eyes to the screen to view it. As the trial went on, many began to take the side of Johnny Depp and social media began to follow that trend with memes and jokes related to the trial. These trends had even been mentioned in the trial by an expert witness in the form of hashtags such as “#WeJustDontLikeYouAmber” and “#JusticeforJohnny.”
Throughout the weeks, Depp and Heard’s legal teams brought many witnesses to the stand and people stayed updated, formulating opinions. After the long six-week trial, the jury, on June 1, 2022, found Heard guilty of defamation against Depp. They found that Heard maliciously and intentionally defamed Depp in her op-ed detailing her account of being a domestic abuse survivor. It was decided Heard should pay $15 million to Depp, but the amount was reduced to a little over $10 million by the judge due to Virginia law. Depp’s legal team was also found guilty of defamation in the case of calling Heard’s claims “fake,” along with other statements. Heard was awarded $2 million in damages.
Since everyone can get regular updates due to the endless amount of information on all social media platforms, the topic has been discussed frequently by students and staff at NHP. Many are happy with the outcome because they believe it holds a very strong message for future domestic abuse cases.
“This entire trial being so trendy on social media, especially from memes, has definitely changed a lot of people's views on situations like domestic abuse," sophomore Areej Zaidi said. "I feel like more people are seeing the realities of domestic abuse, especially younger people because of our recognition for Johnny Depp. Seeing that your favorite actor can also be a victim of abuse, and that anyone regardless of gender can be a victim of domestic abuse. Every victim should be treated the same regardless of their identity because everyone deserves justice."
“Honestly, I think Amber is making it up; everything she’s been saying has been proven a lie. There’s no way she’ll win. Both of their careers have been tarnished because of it,” sophomore Sabrina DeRocchis said.
Psychologists, lawyers and even regular people have begun to analyze the nature of the case. As the verdict came to a close, social media blew up and many had strong opinions throughout the duration of the trial.