The Johnny Depp defamation trial has been in full swing for more than 5 weeks now.
On Monday, it entered its sixth week, and while the trial is expected to wrap up as of Friday, there are still questions looming about who did what to whom and when, why Amber Heard would claim injuries for which she sought no medical treatment, and whether her intentions with Johnny Depp were based on her true feelings or on attempts to use his fame and money to propel her own career.
The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial has been nicknamed “the trial of the century” by some fans and outlets, and even if that’s not quite true, the police presence, security, and fanfare just outside the steps of the Fairfax County Courthouse are anything but the norm.
Answers for questions about the specifics in the case, as well as answers about either party’s motivation and mindset may be hard to come by or even impossible to find, but there are several questions fans have for which the answers are more easily found. And they are pressing questions indeed.
Whether you’re a diehard Johnny Depp fan, or simply a casual observer, you’ve probably found yourself pondering some of these questions at one time or another. Even if you’re simply a Court TV junkie, you might have some of the questions with which the rest of us have wrestled.
To that end, this writer has done some research to find the answers so you don’t have to. How many of these questions have you found yourself asking lately as they relate to the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial?
Why the heck is the trial taking place in Virginia?
Both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are Hollywood stars, though the former trumps the latter in years in the business, earnings, earnings potential, number of productions, etc. Johnny Depp has multiple homes in Los Angeles, owns a private island in the Bahamas, and may even have other homes about which fans know nothing. Amber Heard reportedly lives in London with her baby, Oonagh Paige. And more importantly, the alleged incidences between the former Hollywood couple that have become TikTok and YouTube fodder allegedly transpired in the couple’s homes, on the private island, and then in Australia and Tokyo.
So why is the defamation trial taking place in Virginia?
According to the Associated Press, Amber Heard’s legal team attempted to have the trial moved to California. But Johnny Depp’s attorneys said part of the reason they decided to file suit in the state of Virginia had to do with the state’s anti-SLAPP legislation, which is not as “wide-ranging as in California.” Heard’s attorneys tried to get the trial moved to California but Mr Depp’s lawyers said one of the reasons they decided to sue in Virginia was because of the state’s anti-SLAPP legislation, which is not as wide-ranging as in California.
According to the Reporters Committee, SLAPP is an acronym for strategic lawsuits against public participation.
“Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to provide a remedy to SLAPP suits. Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights,” reads a post from the committee.
One more reason the suit was filed in Virginia relates to The Washington Post, in which Amber Heard’s famous op-ed was published. The trial is taking place in Fairfax County because the servers with which the online edition of The Post is published are located in that county.
What do we know about the jury and how they were selected for such a high-profile case?
According to Deadline, most of the potential jurors in the case said they didn’t know much about the Depp-Heard situation. One potential juror even said he couldn’t place the ex-wife of the plaintiff. “To be honest, I forgot the name of the other party,” he reportedly said.
On the day of jury selection, each of the 11 men and women were chosen and seated by mid-afternoon. Questioning took approximately four hours, with attorneys on both sides attempting to give potential jurors a glimpse at what was to come during the trial. Jurors were asked if they had strong opinions on several topics, ranging from the “MeToo” movement and domestic abuse to alcohol and drug use, victim shaming, police believability, foul language and the destruction of property, among others. They were even asked if they knew what “The DailyMail” meant. Judge Penney Azcarate told potential jurors the trial was expected to last 6 weeks.
The jury is comprised of 11 men and women: 7 jurors and 4 alternate jurors.
What’s with all the alpacas?
Most days outside the Fairfax County Courthouse, fans line the streets, just waiting for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp. (A few are there to support Amber Heard as well.) Some show up early in the morning for a shot at getting a bracelet that will allow them a seat inside the courtroom. Others just want to show their support.
One such person is Andrea Diaz of Lorton, Virginia. She’s a huge Johnny Depp fan, but she’s also the owner of an organization that was created during the coronavirus pandemic to bring a little hope and happiness to kids while they were trapped in quarantine. Diaz brings alpacas to kids’ houses in an attempt to raise their spirits and bring smiles to their faces, and she has been hopeful about doing the same for Johnny Depp.
Most days you can find Diaz standing outside the courthouse with her two alpacas, Dolce and Inti, the emotional support alpacas who are quite docile–enough that they even pose for photos with perfect strangers with whom Diaz comes in contact.
“I thought the alpacas might brighten [Depp’s] day,” Diaz said shortly before Johnny Depp was first called to the stand. She says she knows Depp might not see Dolce and Inti, but she’s hopeful. “I figured I would just give it a shot.”
And give it a shot she does routinely since the trial began. And Depp must have noticed, as one day when he exited the Cadillac Escalade that has delivered him to the courthouse everyday, he told cameras, “It’s alpaca day!”
Even Depp’s attorneys have been seen posing for photos with Dolce and Inti.
During the defamation trial, Johnny Depp said he wouldn’t work for Disney again, referencing his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He went so far as to say he’d never work with Disney again, even if they promised him $300 million and 1 million alpacas.
Why the heck did Amber Heard robotically look away from Depp’s attorneys when she answered their questions?
Amber Heard infuriated scores of trial observers with her continual, almost robotic way of looking directly at jurors while she attempted to give answers to questions from Depp’s attorneys. Most concluded she had been coached to do so, which, according to FOX News, is exactly what happened.
Heard was most likely coached to look at the jury by her legal team, but FOX News says that’s a “double-edged sword.”
“Her attorneys most likely coached her to look at the jury when answering the question,” explains behavior specialist Susan Constantine-Perfido. “This can be good, and it also can backfire. Too much eye contact can make jurors feel uncomfortable and make them feel their objectivity and neutrality could be questioned.”
“On the other hand, connecting eyes with jurors even for a quick glance builds rapport,” Constantine-Perfido explained. “Amber darts her eyes towards jurors and lands eyes on those that most likely make eye contact with her. It is unclear if she is connecting eyes with a few or all the jurors.”
Constantine-Perfido goes on to say that as a trial consultant, she does not advise clients to “gaze over to jurors on every answer,” saying that doing so appears “robotic and coached.”
What’s that music being played loudly from the Cadillac Escalade every morning when Depp arrives?
Every morning when Johnny Depp arrives to the Fairfax County Courthouse, he does so in a black extended Cadillac Escalade. It’s a sharp ride for sure, but what we really want to know is–what music is Depp playing each morning when he arrives? It’s loud enough that it can be heard from outside the vehicle before Depp’s assistant opens the passenger rear door for Depp.
This writer did some digging and found that on most days, Depp arrives against a backdrop of reggae music–very often from the talents of Mr. Bob Marley. More than once, Depp has arrived while Marley’s “Exodus” is playing. Exodus is the name of a song by Marley, as well as the title of his 1977 album, according to The Jamaica Gleaner.
Reggae music is said to have a calming effect, so we like to imagine that perhaps Bob Marley’s music plays a role in Johnny Depp’s mindfulness exercises before he enters the courtroom. No confirmation from Depp or his team about that though.
Rebuttal has begun in the trial, and closing arguments are expected on Friday.