Ben Chew and Camille Vasquez, two of the lawyers who represented Johnny Depp in his recent highly-publicized trial, say “social media played no role whatsoever” in the jury’s decision to find Amber Heard guilty of defamation against her ex-husband. The attorneys appeared on both Good Morning America and The Today Show Wednesday morning to discuss the trial, which ended last week with both Depp and Heard receiving compensatory damages — though Depp’s sum was over $8 million more than Heard’s.
“Social media played no role whatsoever [in the jury’s verdict],” Chew told GMA’s George Stephanopoulos. “This was a decision made by the jury on the evidence presented by both sides, and as Camille said [earlier in the interview], it was overwhelmingly in Mr. Depp’s favor.”
Depp and Heard’s trial was a subject of nonstop chatter online throughout its grueling six-week duration. While Chew and Vasquez acknowledged that social media and the 24/7 news cycle are inescapable, Chew told Today’s Savannah Guthrie that he “[doesn’t] think there’s any reason to believe that the jurors violated their oath,” and he was “disappointed” to hear Heard’s lawyer Elaine Bredehoft suggest they might have.
Vasquez explained that the jury was “admonished every single night,” and added that “they had a tremendous amount of respect for the court and the process, and they were doing they best that they could.” On the other hand, court-appointed stenographer Judy Bellinger told Law & Crime Network earlier this week that she saw “a few jurors dozing off” during the extensive trial.
Stephanopoulos also asked the lawyers how they thought this case played into Hollywood’s #MeToo movement. Vasquez said she didn’t think the verdict had any negative impact on the movement, adding: “We encourage any victim to come forward… We believe that the verdict speaks for itself, the facts are what they were, the jury made a unanimous decision based on those facts.”
Depp filed the $50 million lawsuit in response to his ex-wife’s 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post with the headline: “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” Although Heard never mentioned Depp by name, the latter claimed that the article tainted his reputation. Heard countersued for $100 million, claiming that Depp’s lawyer defamed her by telling the press that her allegations were false.
Heard has plans to appeal the jury’s ruling, while Depp may also appeal the $2 million awarded to her.