I was barely old enough to know what a movie was when began his career as an actor. Boldness doesn’t bother me, though I won’t tout it by giving away my age, but let’s just say some of my fondest, oldest memories of the movie theater were forged sometime between Disney’s release of The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.
And my earliest memory of the name “” is from 1993 when he starred in the film, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I lived in the tiny little town that was home to Darlene Cates, the actress who played Grape’s homebound mother. (That was a big deal for our little town!)
But I’ve never seen the film. And I didn’t grow up watching any of Depp’s films.
But his actress and all that I’ve learned about the person of , his character, his generosity, and his humility have not only made me a fan, but helped me to see the truth in his testimony about the he endured for years at the hands of his ex-wife. against
Contrary to the white noise from his critics and defamers, Depp did not win his case because of his celebrity status or because he is male. He won because, as he said in his post-verdict statement, veritas numquam perit: truth never perishes, and it’s time for everyone to accept that.
On June 1, the jury rewarded Depp with a total judgment in the amount of $15 million: $10 million in , the latter of which was reduced to $350,000 per Commonwealth of Virginia statutes. and $5 million in effectively won the suit he brought against his ex-wife , proving to seven jurors that all three claims he made against her were merited. For his efforts and honesty,
But despite all the evidence, despite the testimony, the directs, the re-directs–six weeks in duration–some still take issue with Depp’s win, calling it “chilling,” “wrong,” a “symptom of a culture that oppresses women,” and the like.
But in truth, the chilling, wrong symptoms of our culture today are in ‘s ability to keep up a lifestyle of abusing her husband for so long and with so few consequences, if any.
Even now, as expected, Heard’s . put it, the “demonization” of the actress is preparing to appeal the jury’s decision, and it has nothing to do with their client’s innocence or misrepresentation or, as Heard’s lead attorney
No, the appeal has everything to do with Heard’s inability and refusal to accept responsibility for her actions, her inability and refusal to tell the truth–even under oath. Depp was abused mentally, emotionally, and physically by this woman for years, and the continues now from those who defend Heard only on the basis that she’s and he’s –but, I daresay, not because they truly believe Depp was the abuser.
It’s this kind of thinking that had ‘s ‘s work cut out for them–especially since Depp, the ex-husband, a male, brought a suit against , his wife, a female, alleging she defamed him and cost him his career, deciding to let the whole world into his private life–his private conversations, text messages, phone calls, etc.–in an effort to help the jury understand his plight as a male victim of female and .
It was a risk, to say the least–one that he knew would embarrass him and open him up to public ridicule. One that would allow millions of total strangers into every private facet of his home life. One that might even net him a title of “weakling” as a man calling out from a woman. But it was a risk felt he had to take in an attempt to restore his good name for his career and for his children.
“The goal of bringing this case,” Depp explained in a statement, “was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome.”
Clearly, realized the risk–a risk this writer dares to say is one few would have had the courage to take.
Depp’s team of attorneys was up for the challenge, beginning on April 11 to carry out their case against Ms. Heard and later, during the countersuit portion of the trial, in defense of Mr. Depp.
And though cameras inside the courtroom recorded and globally televised the jokes, the laughter, and the sharing of candy between Depp and his team throughout the trial, each counselor on duty to represent took very seriously his or her role in reinstating him to his rightful place–the place he had worked since his first film in 1984 to get to–and no part of those roles were laughing matters.
And while the laughter and hilarity that sometimes ensued between and his attorneys inside the courtroom–especially between Depp and lead counsel –never bled over into the attorneys’ work from the podium or sidebar inside the Fairfax County, Virginia, courtroom, perhaps the line between the team’s admiration for Depp and his admiration for them wasn’t so clearly drawn–a reality that undeniably lent itself to the victory that ultimately befell Depp on June 1 when the jury of seven awarded him a win on all three of his claims against –a victory well deserved and graciously accepted.
And there was no mistaking the dedication each of Depp’s lawyers felt in delivering him to that well-deserved place “beyond his beloved horizon.”
But before they could bid Depp an honorable “Bon Voyage” as he set sail toward that horizon, the team, comprised of , , , , , , and , would not only have to prove that Heard defamed Depp, but specifically that the 212 words she used in an opEd for The brought down the seemingly unsinkable .
But simply dissecting Heard’s opEd in front of Judge Penney Azcarate and the jury wouldn’t be enough. In fact, it would seal Captain ‘s doom, regardless of the truth that lay under the shroud of his ex-wife’s lies, false allegations, shenanigans, and attention-seeking, forever exiling him from that “beloved horizon.”
No, , et al, would have to think like a pathological liar–while being devout in their endeavor to keep the hallmarks of honesty and integrity as their holy grails as they sought every day during the six-weeks-long trial to reveal the truth about Depp’s accuser–the actual pathological liar.
Think like a liar, without stooping to dishonesty, in an effort to outsmart the real liar and allow her to reveal her true self to the jury without even realizing it.
Depp’s faith in his team and the mutual respect between the actor and his attorneys was almost palpable as each day, the team of lawyers arrived at the courthouse, visibly ready for the long hours of questions, accusations, partial answers, half-truths, bald-faced lies, and odd behaviors and facial expressions that populated the courtroom in no short supply.
Long before the trial ever began, Depp’s team of dynamic attorneys from the Law Firm filed suit against on behalf of the Edward Scissorhands star in a court in the Commonwealth of Virginia, even though both Depp and Heard reside in California. It was a genius move, and one that single-handedly allowed the trial to play out in its entirety.
That’s because Virginia’s anti-SLAPP laws differ from those in other states in the union. In fact, they’re much weaker, according to Bloomberg Law.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, and legislation against it, called Anti-SLAPP legislation, is designed to discourage powerful individuals from abusing the legal system in an effort to keep their critics from speaking against them.
and the team knew this and, using the fallacy of Virginia’s laws in their favor, they chose to bring suit against Heard there, rather than in California. Here’s why, according to Bloomberg:
“Unlike other states, Virginia’s anti-SLAPP law doesn’t automatically stop the case from moving forward. When a person claims they’re protected by an anti-SLAPP law in California, everything stops until a judge decides if they really are immune from litigation. In Virginia, the immunity provided by the state’s anti-SLAPP law can be used as a defense at trial against the litigation.”
That undeserved immunity wasn’t available to in Virginia. And the naysayers who insist Depp’s team bypassed the system and had an unfair advantage–to them this writer says not so. Instead, attorneys used the law to protect from being cast aside simply because powerful people want to be able to keep their critics at bay.
Heard is so much more than a critic; she’s an abuser, and when she couldn’t control , she vowed to destroy all that he had worked so hard to achieve.
To be clear, filing suit in Virginia certainly didn’t seal Depp’s victory–not by a long shot, but it did remove some of the bureaucratic and legal roadblocks, thus allowing the to move forward.
Heard’s team knew this as well, and they attempted to have the trial moved to California. When those attempts proved unsuccessful, Heard countersued Depp for $100 million.
Throughout the trial, witnesses were called to take the stand and answer questions about what they saw or experienced between the two actors. was called to take the stand, as was . During one pinnacle of the trial, Depp testified about Heard’s toward him, saying she needs violence and conflict.
“It could begin with a slap, it could begin with a shove. it could begin with throwing a TV remote at my head,” Depp testified. “She has a need for conflict, she has a need for violence. It erupts out of nowhere”.
Only days later, when Heard took the stand, Depp’s team played audio of the Aquaman actress admitting to being an abuser.
“I did not ******* deck you. I ******* was hitting you,” Heard says to Depp in an audio recording. “I don’t know what the motion of my actual hand was. But you’re fine. I did not hurt you. I did not punch you. I was hitting you.”
The recording continues with, “I’m not sitting here ******** about it, am I? You are. That’s the difference between me and you. You’re a ******* baby. You are such a baby. Grow the **** up, Johnny.”
After six weeks of grueling interrogation, embarrassing playbacks of recorded conversations and arguments between Judge Penney Azcarate and the jury heard closing arguments on May 27. and his then-wife, heart-wrenching accounts of and scores of pieces of evidence–many that highlighted various details about exchanges wherein took place,
After just over 12 hours of deliberation, the jury delivered its verdict, finding that defamed and that all three of his claims against her were true. The jury determined that Heard not only defamed her then-husband, but she did so with malice. He was awarded $10 million in and $5 million in .
The jury awarded only on one claim–that she was defamed, but by statements made by Depp’s former attorney, . She was awarded $2 million and no whatsoever–damages “considered punishment and are typically awarded at the court’s discretion when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful,” according to Cornell Law.
Even the jury knew Heard had been “especially harmful” in her behavior toward .
But in a post from the Times dated June 1, the writer brings focus to a conglomerate group of “experts” who see the pro-Depp verdict as a mark against the #MeToo movement, and who also feel the verdict highlights “a distrust and dislike of Heard.” Though readers don’t see it in the article’s title, the URL for the post online reads, “Bad and Dangerous – What ‘s Victory Means.”
Is it bad and dangerous that a man–be he or the guy next door–who was the victim of years of relentless physical, emotional, and mental could file suit against his abuser? That’s bad? And dangerous? Is it dangerous that Depp could find the bravery, boldness, and courage with which to stand up and, as Heard challenged him to do, “tell the world, Johnny, tell them, , I , a man, I’m a victim too of , and see how many people believe or side with you“?
Is it dangerous that he had that kind of courage and determination toward the truth?
I suppose it could be, though–it could dangerous for that percentage of women who their male partners because they are, at their core, abusers who stop at nothing for total control–even control of other human beings–and who carry out their violence and unrelenting , feeling a sense of immunity all the while.
It could be dangerous for those women who feel they are above the law simply because their husbands, boyfriends, and partners are far more hard-pressed to find a jury who will believe that a man could so easily succumb to .
Yes, Depp’s verdict could be extremely problematic for those women.
After all, every court case in the that ends in victory began its journey toward that win between the pages of the books in massive law libraries where records of cases are kept for all eternity so that future attorneys can use them on their journeys toward victory as well.
It’s called a precedent. Cases are won and lost by precedents. The rest is icing and a cherry on top.
“Some [experts] fear [the Depp verdict] could set back the cause of women who complain about by powerful men,” the post continues.
But what of the men who attempt to bring to light by powerful women? Where is their representation? To those who choose to assume that inside the Depp-Heard relationship, he played “powerful celebrity abuser” and she played “meek, unassuming, and exploited victim,” I say (along with the majority of those who have an opinion on the matter), “Read the transcripts. Look at the evidence. Listen to the recordings.”
Only those with a blind eye to the truth could side with in this particular scenario. From the stand and under oath, the woman told lie after sordid lie, spewing untruth after disgusting untruth–so much so that she lost track of which untruth she had spewed to which person in which setting.
She literally made light work for Depp’s attorney, , who was able to It’s relatively simple to lead a habitual liar to tell on herself when she’s lost track of her dishonest words.
It’s not entrapment when literally laid the traps for herself with her continual lies, the broad changes in her testimony and story over the years, the absence of witnesses her could produce to testify on her behalf, and the laundry list of witnesses–called by Heard’s team as well as Depp’s team–who took the stand and testified that they never saw Depp being physically abusive or violent toward Heard. (Though many testified that they had witnessed her violent and abusive words and acts toward him.)
won his case against because there was truth to be told, and Depp was determined to tell it–regardless of the outcome of the trial.
“Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me,” Depp said in a statement. “I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
And this writer, whose admiration and appreciation of the began because of the trial, because of the truth, and because of the triumph, implores the general public who find fault with the verdict to respect the fact that the due process of law has had its role, and realize it’s time to accept it and move on.
It’s one of the most positive things to happen for men tormented by relationships in which they are regular victims of . And it’s by far the best thing to happen to in a very long time.
Perhaps Depp’s bravery will inspire other men to find that courage as well.