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Johnny Depp-Amber Heard case: What are the possible outcomes of the defamation trial?

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The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial is in its final stages, with the jury deliberating in Fairfax, Virginia, before announcing their verdict.

After six weeks of depositions and revelations of personal details, the multi-million dollar trial has finally come to its end.

While the trial has achieved unprecedented media attention, the jury will deliberate and reach a verdict on whether or not, on the balance of probability, Heard did defame former husband Depp in the Post article at the center of the case.

Looking at the possible outcomes of the defamation trial, if the jury rules in favor of Depp, Heard will be ordered to pay him the $50 million, he is seeking in compensation for the loss of his earnings.

Furthermore, if the jury rules in favor of the Aquaman actress, Depp will get nothing and could potentially be ordered to pay his former wife the $100m she has asked for in her countersuit.

Again, the jurors could conclude that that figure is too high or insufficient and recommend an adjustment accordingly.

Meanwhile, there is no possibility that a verdict in favour of Depp could lead to Heard going to prison for perjury as this is a civil, not a criminal case.

As this is a civil case, another possible outcome is that an out-of-court settlement could be reached between the two parties as was agreed when they divorced.

However, looking at the hostile nature of present relations between Depp and Heard, that seems unlikely in the extreme at this late stage.

Depp, 58, has sued Heard, 35, for $50m over an opinion piece she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she discussed domestic abuse and experiencing “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”.

Although she did not name her ex-husband in the article in question, Depp’s legal team argues that readers were likely to assume he was the person responsible for the abuse and have claimed that the piece caused their client to lose out on lucrative film roles as a result of its publication.

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