“A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed,” Heard’s lawyer said.
On Wednesday, Johnny Depp won his defamation trial against Amber Heard in an unsettling but unsurprising result, given the atmosphere around the suit. The legal proceedings were inescapable, whether you wanted to pay attention or not: the weeks-long, publicly streamed carnival of salaciousness seemed skewed towards Depp from the start, turning the idea of a fair trial in the age of social media into somewhat of a farce. Because of this, Amber Heard wants to appeal the jury’s decision in favor of her ex, and her attorney claims that she has excellent grounds for it.
Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, appeared on The Today Show Thursday morning. In an interview with Savannah Guthrie, Bredehoft blamed the loss partly on decisions on evidence allowed in the trial and the influence of social media, leading to the jury finding in favor of Depp and awarding him $15 million in damages. The judge reduced that to about $10.4 million, and Amber Heard herself was awarded $2 million as a result of her counterclaim.
Bredehoft also noted the fact that the jury went home every night and was likely influenced by coverage of the trial, something that juries are instructed to ignore to avoid an impact on their decision-making. However, in the age of social media, it’s difficult to avoid details on one of the most covered trials in recent memory, unless you’re sequestered with the 11 other members of your jury. If you were on the Internet for any moment during the trial, you had a big chance of running into viewpoints on what was going on with the Depp/Heard trial: gossip about Bredehoft, body language analysis, moments deemed funny by Depp fans, and more. Twitter specifically made it impossible to use its app without seeing live coverage of the trial in their trending topics the entirety of its run.
“A number of things were allowed in this court that should not have been allowed, and it caused the jury to be confused,” Bredehoft said in her interview with Today Show. She added that this verdict reads like “a tale of two trials” when compared with the libel case Depp brought against United Kingdom paper The Sun and lost. The result of that case it’s just one of the examples of what the American jury wasn’t allowed to hear about.
On social media post-verdict, the usual suspects have taken their corners. On one side, those celebrating Depp’s win: his legion of fans, men’s rights activists, and strangely, The House Judiciary Committee's Republicans, who tweeted a Depp GIF from Pirates of the Caribbean from their official account after the verdict was read. On the other, there are domestic violence activists and feminists who read the jury ruling as a setback for all women and survivors of domestic violence, as Heard herself mentioned in her Twitter statement after the verdict. There are already reports of domestic violence survivors retracting statements and dropping suits against their accused abusers, and it hasn’t even been 24 hours yet.
“It’s a significant setback because that is exactly what it means. Unless you pull out your phone and you video your spouse or your significant other beating you, effectively, you won’t be believed,” Bredehoft said.