Jury Instructions Could Doom Johnny Depp As Final Arguments, Deliberations Set

With all of the back and forth in the Johnny Depp defamation suit — and Amber Heard countersuit — the ruling could come down to simple instructions from the judge.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate sided with Heard and her team of lawyers, who argued that former attorney for Johnny Depp — Adam Waldman, who was kicked off of the case — did not have free speech protections when he made his allegedly defamatory statements against Heard.

“Defending yourself through judicially immune statements in a lawsuit entitles someone to go out and say whatever they want to avail themselves to privilege,” Ben Rottenborn contested for Heard.

Rottenborn also said that Waldman was “attack dog” after he was removed from the case after leaking information covered by a protective order to the press.

Representatives for Depp, argued that Waldman and his comments “were clearly in direct response to Ms. Heard’s allegations on their face. Whether that response was fair and reasonable is a jury question.”

Samuel Moniz thought he had scored a victory when it appeared that Azcarate was ready to disagree with Rottenborn on whether the issue is a matter of law. Azcarate then said the question swings on “whether or not there is any evidence that a jury can find [of Waldman’s statements] being protected speech.”

She then added, “I don’t think it’s my role to weigh that evidence.”

“The only way to find defamatory statements in this case is if there’s actual malice,” Azcarate continued “That’s unique to this case, and I understand that. But if they find actual malice in the defamatory statements, you don’t have protected speech privilege anyway.”

In order for Heard to prevail in her counterclaim, she and her team has to prove that Waldman made those allegedly defamatory statements with actual malice, or if he made them with the knowledge that he knew his claims were lies.

The italics are for legal emphasis because the jury instruction can greatly swing the results. Judge Azacarate also instructed the group that she would allow jurors to award punitive damages, if they deemed it necessary.

Depp V Heard Trial: If you missed anything, check it all out.

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