Jury deliberations have finally begun in what some are calling the “trial of the century.”
The jury has been excused to the jury’s deliberation room in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial after six long weeks of testimony, arguments, a myriad of sidebars, and some of the strangest happenings and antics seen at any courthouse.
On Thursday, Judge Penney Azcarate explained certain rules for the jury to consider in their deliberations.
In a key ruling on jury instructions, the judge overseeing the case sided with Heard’s lawyers Thursday that Waldman does not qualify for privilege, a defense from defamation, because his statements were not in response to anything Heard said or wrote. A ruling the other way could have led to jurors outright denying Heard’s $100 million counterclaim against Depp.
Ben Rottenborn, representing Heard, said of Waldman that it cannot be the case “that defending yourself through judicially immune statements in a lawsuit entitles someone to go out and say whatever they want to avail themselves to privilege.” He called Waldman — thrown off the case for leaking information covered by a protective order to the press — Depp’s “attack dog.”
Asked about Heard’s statements that Waldman was responding to entitling him to a defense of privilege, a lawyer for Depp pointed to an article in The Sun that called the actor a “wife beater.”
“They have to be Ms. Heard’s statements,” Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate replied.
On Friday, after hours of closing arguments on both sides, Judge Penney Azcarate excused jurors to the deliberations room, shortly after excusing alternate jurors #3 and #14, but instructing them that they were still bound by the rules inside the courtroom for the jury, should they need to be called back to serve on the jury in the event another juror is unable to fulfill his or her duties.
It is unclear how long it will take jurors to come to a decision in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial.
There are 37 pages of instructions for jurors to follow and a 4-page verdict form. Now we await breaking news of the jury’s decision, which could take hours or days for the jury to reach.