As Depp-Heard trial shifts to her side of the case, judge rejects motion to dismiss

A blond woman talks to two attorneys in a Virginia courtroom.
Actor Amber Heard talks to her attorneys in a courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court on April 20, 2022.
(Evelyn Hockstein / Associated Press)
Share via

Right before Amber Heard’s team began presenting its case Tuesday, a Virginia judge denied a request made by her attorneys to dismiss Johnny Depp’s defamation case against her.

On Tuesday, an attorney for Heard made a motion for summary judgment and asked Judge Penney Azcarate to strike the evidence presented by Depp’s team. (Heard has countersued Depp, seeking $100 million versus his plea for $50 million.)

Azcarate promptly rejected the motion, stating “that a jury could weigh” that Heard defamed Depp with her 2018 op-ed about sexual violence based on the evidence provided so far — and therefore the defense should proceed with its counterargument.


J. Benjamin Rottenborn argued Tuesday that Depp’s team did not present sufficient evidence to prove that his client, the “Aquaman” actor, defamed the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star with her 2018 essay for the Washington Post.

Johnny Depp’s agent says that ex-wife Amber Heard’s 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post describing herself as a victim of domestic abuse was “catastrophic” to Depp’s career and coincided with the loss of a $23 million deal for a “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel

May 2, 2022

“Mr. Depp can’t meet his burden of proof on this,” Rottenborn said. “Mr. Depp hasn’t introduced any evidence — and there can’t be a reasonable inference drawn that would permit a jury to find — that he’s proven ... that Ms. Heard wrote the words with actual malice.”

In response to Rottenborn’s statements, an attorney for Depp opposed the request for dismissal on grounds that his client provided “multiple credible witnesses, documents and authentic tape recordings ... not only satisfying all of the requisite elements of his claim for defamation, including actual malice, but also going the extra mile of showing that [Heard] physically abused him.”

“She’s the abuser in this courtroom,” Depp lawyer Benjamin Chew asserted.

During the defamation trial unfolding in Fairfax, Va., Depp’s team called its two final witnesses to the stand on Tuesday. A nurse who once treated Heard and a forensic accountant testified respectively to injuries allegedly sustained by Heard and financial losses allegedly suffered by Depp.

Johnny Depp’s tales of his chaotic childhood, rise to fame and use of drugs and booze steal the spotlight on first day of his testimony against Amber Heard.

April 19, 2022