Millions live-streamed the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial that took place from April 11 to June 1, but the seven jury members (plus two alternates) in the courtroom weren’t as enthralled by the evidence.
Court stenographer Judy Bellinger said that she observed certain jurors “dozing off” during the lengthy depositions and testimonies.
“It was tough,” Bellinger told the Law & Crime Network that televised the trial. “There was a lot of video deposition, and they’d just sit there and, all of a sudden, I’d see their heads drop.”
However, Bellinger assured that the majority of the jury was “very intent” and “listening intently” over the course of the trial, but “unfortunately, when the jury was chosen, we knew there were going to be some that wouldn’t see it all the way through.”
Bellinger especially cited one alternate juror who was “probably the one that listened the most.” Bellinger added, “I watched her facial expressions. She was very deeply into every word that was being said. I thought she would’ve made a great juror but she did not get to see it to the end…She was the best juror. She was paying close attention. There were a few jurors dozing off. She never dozed off.”
The jury’s verdict was announced on June 1, finding that “Aquaman” star Heard defamed ex-husband Depp when she penned a 2018 Washington Post op-ed citing a domestic violence relationship, implying that she endured physical, psychological, verbal, and sexual domestic abuse at the hands of Depp, whom she did not actually name. The Oscar-nominated actor sued Heard in 2019 for $50 million over the loss of big-budget film roles, alleging that he himself was the victim of abuse by Heard. She later countersued for $100 million.
Heard is ordered to pay $10.35 million in damages to Depp; Heard was also awarded $2 million in compensatory damages for her counterclaim, all after the jury initially forgot to include dollar amounts in damages at the verdict reading.
Leading #MeToo attorney Lee Feldman told IndieWire that the jury misstep was “bizarre,” adding, “That almost never happens. I mean, that’s the whole point [of a defamation case].”
Heard’s attorney Elaine Charlson Bredehoft criticized the courtroom for being turned into a “coliseum” with Depp fans and paparazzi involved. As Heard plans to appeal the verdict, Bredehoft said on the Today show that “vitriolic” social media influenced the ruling.
“The fact that they had 100 Depp fans in there every day, it was like coliseum as opposed to a dignified courtroom,” Bredehoft said. “I think all of those things had a negative influence here that caused this to be much more challenging and much more difficult.”
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