Since the verdict was read in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s high-profile defamation case, reactions from other celebrities, journalists, and the legal community have been pouring in. Though both parties technically won, Depp is widely considered to have come out victorious because the jury found in his favor on all three charges, and he is to be awarded $10.35 million in compensatory and punitive damages, whereas Heard will receive just $2 million in compensatory damages. . Now it’s time to sift through what it all means. Here are seven takeaways:
- The verdict was unusual. Attorney David Glass told People that it’s “relatively rare” for both parties to simultaneously win and lose a case like this, and lawyer Emily D. Baker called the verdict a “strange result,” pointing to the differential in awarded money–Heard is slated to receive $2 million in compensatory damages, but none in punitive–as an indication the jury believed Heard acted with more malice than Depp did.
- Amber Heard doesn’t have enough money to pay her damages. One of Heard’s attorney’s, Elaine Charlson Bredhoft, told The Today Show that her client did not have the means to pay the entirety of the settlement at present.\
- But Heard will appeal, and she still has a chance to win the case. Heard’s spokesperson has already said she’s planning to appeal the verdict, and lawyer Lisa Bloom, who worked on cases involving Fox News anchors and Bill Cosby, told The Guardian that “most defamation cases are really decided on appeal.” She thinks this was “an inconsistent verdict” because the jury found that favor of two seemingly contradictory claims– that Depp was defamed by Heard’s assertion in an op-ed that she is representative of domestic violence, and that Heard was defamed when Depp’s lawyer calling her accusations a hoax.\
- Depp may have won this round because the case was decided by jury. Britain’s libel laws are famously much tougher than the U.S’s, and yet Depp won in America after losing his 2016 libel case against British tabloid The Sun, which was decided by a judge. How? According to a media lawyer who spoke with The Washington Post, Depp’s counsel employed a legal strategy referred to as “DARVO” (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender) which is often more successful with juries than judges.
- Celebrities seem to be supporting Depp. Buzzfeed counted all the celebrities who liked Depp’s post-trial Instagram post vs. Heard’s and the disparity in favor of Depp is very lopsided. Depp’s post was liked by Patti Smith, Bella Hadid, Jason Momoa, Henry Golding, and many other actors and musicians. Heard’s was supported by Selma Blair, Sarah Steele and, strangely, Momoa again.
- So are right-wingers. A widely circulated Tweet from the Republican House of Representatives Judiciary Committee showed support for Depp following the verdict, and many on the right are rejoicing that the actor’s win marks a symbolic end for the “Me Too” era.
- And Depp fans are buying perfume. Depp’s Sauvage fragrance by Dior “is currently the best-selling men’s cologne on both Sephora.com and Ulta.com—two of the internet’s largest beauty retailers,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Reviews of Sauvage on the sites often mention support for Depp.
- But many fear that the verdict will have a chilling effect on domestic violence victims. Guardian columnist Moira Donegan pointed out that the backlash Heard faced illustrated the plight that women face for speaking out about their experiences with domestic and sexual violence, calling the trial “a tipping point in our culture’s response to gender violence.” In the New Yorker, Jessica Winter notes that “others have already taken cues from [Depp’s] success, citing Marilyn Manson’s defamation case against Evan Rachel Wood. And the president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said Depp’s win “adds another layer” that could stop victims from coming forward.