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Celebrity Lawyer Explains Depp’s Defamation Trial Verdict

[Source: Good Day LA]

CELEBRITY LAWYER CHRISTOPHER C. MELCHER, WHO IS RANKED AS A BEST FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY IN CA, EXPLAINS JOHNNY DEPP’S DEFAMATION TRIAL VERDICT DELIBERATION ON GOOD DAY LA.  

 

With punitive damages, Amber Heard was ordered to pay more than $10 million in the defamation trial. She was awarded $2 million from her counter suit against Johnny Depp.

Tony:

Celebrity divorce lawyer Christopher Melcher has been walking us through this trial over the last several days and he joins us again now to talk about the verdict. How does it all just boil down? I mean I know we can’t be too simplistic about this, but does it really just boil down to the jury not really believing Amber Heard? Is that what it comes down to?

Christopher Melcher:

“That’s absolutely right, Tony. It was a he said, she said case. There certainly was some evidence to support each side’s story, but ultimately it came down to the jury not believing Amber’s testimony over the course of a couple days about all the abuse that she suffered or said that she suffered and believing Johnny Depp’s denial of those things. That’s what drove the decision,” states the top family law attorney.

 

Roxy:

Are you surprised at all at how things turned out and how quickly the jury came with this decision?

Christopher Melcher:

“Well they took a few days to make their deliberations. It was a surprise that both of them came away with some of a win. That I didn’t see coming, but there were different statements that each of them accused of having made against each other that were false. So the jury gave something to both of them,” states the partner of Walzer Melcher LLP, which is ranked as a best family law firm in California.

 

Tony:

You know what? Defamation cases are very difficult to prove. People should know that. I mean for instance, Johnny Depp lost a defamation case that he made against a newspaper and it basically involved some of the same issues.

Christopher Melcher:

That’s right, Tony.

“In the UK, he sued The Sun and under English law, the publisher has to prove the truth of the statement.  Here in the United States, we have to prove that the statement is false. So with this higher burden of proof, he was able to succeed with this jury in Virginia and he sued out there because the laws are more favorable. Had he done it in California, it would have been much more difficult when you’re speaking about a public figure, but ultimately he overcame all those issues and the jury believed him that he was the victim of abuse at the hand of Amber essentially,” states the family law expert.

 

Roxy:

At the end of the day, the topic of abuse and what was really at stake here is such a serious topic. At moments, there was so much distraction and you had people, the court of public opinion really weighing in. Not that that influenced the jury, but at the same time, the topic itself is a serious one. How do you see this playing out with other cases moving forward? Do you think damage was done when it comes to something like abuse?

Christopher Melcher:

“…I think it’s important that we balance the need to protect and support victims who come forward against their abusers against the right of the accused to due process, some opportunity to respond and for us to take the time before we issue judgment against people to understand the facts. So I think what happened in this case is there was a rush to judge Johnny Depp based on Amber’s word, but then as we’ve seen all these years later, her word was not believed,” stated the international family law attorney.

 

Tony:

Well this is really important, I think. We have to realize that this wasn’t so much a sexual abuse case as it was a defamation case. People shouldn’t read it as a sexual abuse case.

Roxy:

That’s what it became in the court of public opinion.

Tony:

That’s what it became, but it’s a defamation case which is something quite a bit different.

Christopher Melcher:

Well yeah, the statement that she made was that she was basically a victim of abuse and that she had spoken out about that and felt the wrath of our culture. So yeah, he sued for that statement and the jury must have concluded that that abuse did not occur for her statement to be false.

Tony:

Is she going to end up ever paying that money, do you think?

Christopher Melcher:

“I doubt it. Amber got $7 million in the divorce judgment. I’m sure she’s spent a good portion of that. I don’t think she has $10 million and we’ll see if Johnny enforces it. He’s said that he was there to clear his name. He’s done that so we’ll see if she pays any of it or he has any interest in collecting it.”

 

Roxy:

Right. It’s really about clearing his name which he did and obviously people talking about what a comeback this is going to be for his career. So we’ll see how that all plays out. Christopher, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate you joining us.

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