A Virginia judge has allowed Johnny Depp’s libel case against Amber Heard to proceed despite the United Kingdom’s ruling.
The story of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is, at this point, a long and complicated one. It has involved multiple lawsuits and various allegations that the former married couple has constantly thrown at each other. The two divorced back in 2017 following what was eventually revealed to be an extremely toxic marriage. Allegations of abuse have since followed the actor which allegedly resulted in him being let go from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise following an op-ed Heard published in The Washington Post regarding spousal abuse.
Since then Johnny Depp has launched multiple lawsuits against Amber Heard in some way or another. One was directly at Heard for her op-ed in Virginia while another was directed at The Sun in The United Kingdom for calling him a “wife-beater”. The latter case ended last November with the Judge ruling that there was enough evidence to call the actor such. Since then the actor has appealed and contested the ruling with little headway made.
The ruling for The Sun took place in the United Kingdom which begged the question as to how that ruling would affect Johnny Depp’s libel suit against Amber Heard in his case in Virginia. Heard’s lawyers argued that Depp’s case against Heard should not be allowed to proceed since the United Kingdom case more or less stated that there was enough evidence that to label him as a domestic abuser. A Virginia judge has, however, disagreed with this.
Earlier today Fairfax County Chief Judge Penney Azcarate rejected Amber Heard’s motion stating that while her interests may have aligned with The Sun, they were not identical:
“The Sun‘s interests were based on whether the statements the newspaper published were false. [Heard’s] interests relate to whether the statements she published were false.”
In other words, the judge has ruled, at least in part, that the case may be allowed to proceed forward because the UK lawsuit wasn’t directed Amber Heard but The Sun’s comments while Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard is directly for things she wrote. Furthermore, Azcarate felt that allowing the U.K. ruling to influence her decision would set a dangerous precedent for future libel suits in the United States:
“If anything, upholding English libel judgments in the United States would create the chilling effect and could create a dangerous precedent.”
The trial for Johnny Depp’s libel suit against Amber Heard is currently set to begin early next year.
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