The couple is facing each other at the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor is suing his ex-wife for $50 million over a December 2018 op-ed Heard wrote for the Washington Post where she claims that she is a domestic violence survivor. Although she did not mention Depp by name, he claims that he has lost movie roles due to the “clear implication” that he was the “Aquaman” actress’ abuser.
Depp’s testimony stretched over several days. After first being questioned by his attorney, Jess Meyers, the “Fantastic Beasts” actor was then cross-examined by Heard’s lawyer, Ben Rottenborn.
Daniel Gutenplan, entertainment litigator, defamation expert, and a partner at Enenstein Pham & Glass, told PEOPLE that Depp is facing an “uphill battle” in winning his lawsuit against his ex-wife.
Legal Expert Questions If Johnny Depp Can Win His Lawsuit Against Amber Heard
“In terms of the trial in Virginia right now, I think Johnny Depp has an uphill battle,” Gutenplan told the publication. “Defamation is very hard to prove. First and foremost, truth is an absolute defense to any defamatory statement. So regardless of the alleged defamatory statement, if a defendant can establish that it is true, the defense is going to win.”
One of the struggles that Depp has in his lawsuit is proving that he experienced hardship as a result of Heard’s op-ed, given that she never mentions him or any specific events in their relationship when she claims to be a domestic abuse survivor.
Gutenplan agreed that the op-ed “doesn’t detail any specific alleged events or any specific conduct. It is incredibly general in that regard.” He added that winning a defamation case “has to be based on facts” and said, “It can’t be based on opinion. And that’s where a lot of defamation plaintiffs get in trouble.”
Although Heard has tried several times to get the case dismissed, Depp was granted “his day in court.” Gutenplan said, “Clearly the judge … to some extent, thinks there’s legs, and at least the jury should decide.”
Gutenplan Says That Johnny Depp Has The ‘Burden Of Proof’
“When we’re talking more about defamation, it really does come down to he said, she said, or he said, he said, or she said, she said, whatever it might be, but it’s an opinion of two people and the defamation claims are oftentimes not reduced to writing,” Gutenplan added.
He continued, “And so anytime you get into a courtroom, you get into a legal battle, and it’s one story against another — which, by the way, is exactly what’s happening in Virginia right now. It’s two people telling two very different stories, right? It’s tough to prove, and let’s not forget that Mr. Depp is the plaintiff and carries the burden of proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence.”
The trial is expected to go on for seven weeks and features a star-studded list of those expected to testify, including “Wandavision” actor Paul Bettany, “127 Hours” actor James Franco, and Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Gutenplan said that he fully expects that, even after the jury makes a final decision, this will not be the end of the legal battle. Gutenplan said that he expects that each side will likely make an appeal should they lose. He said that it could take months, or even years, to reach a final resolution.
Though he says he is uncertain how long the trial will last, Gutenplan estimates it is expected to go for up to seven weeks, with either side likely to appeal should they lose. It could take months and even years to reach a final resolution, he says.
However, he added, “It’s impossible to say now because we don’t know what necessarily is going to happen.”