Legal Expert Explains 'Simple' Reason Johnny Depp Won Defamation Case In US But Lost In UK

A legal expert has explained the "simple" reason that Johnny Depp was successful in his defamation case in the United States but lost in the United Kingdom.
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A Virginia jury ruled in favor of the 58-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star in his $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard on Wednesday (June 1).

In what's been one of the most-watched cases of recent times, the jury found that the 36-year-old actress did defame her former husband in her 2018 Washington Post op-ed.

The court also found that Depp was liable for defaming his ex-wife because of the statements made by his former lawyer Adam Waldman over Heard’s abuse claims. She was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and no money in punitive damages.

Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
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While the Hollywood icon might be a winner in the US, it’s not the case in the UK. Back in 2020, the Fantastic Beasts actor lost a libel case against UK newspaper The Sun after the outlet called him a "wife-beater," BBC News reported.

Per The Washington Post, George Freeman, an executive director of the Media Law Resource Center, said that there is one simple reason why Depp won in the US but not in the UK.

Freeman said: "The answer is simple," while adding, "It was up to the jury."

Mark Stephens, a global media lawyer familiar with both cases, said that the technique used by Depp's legal team is known as DARVO, an acronym for deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender, in which Depp became the victim and Heard the abuser.

"We find that DARVO works very well with juries but almost never works with judges, who are trained to look at the evidence," Stephens said.

Even though the Virginia case had a much higher measure to strike for Depp’s team, "That didn’t impact the outcome because essentially what you have got is a jury believing evidence that a British judge did not accept, so that’s where the difference lies here. Unusually, not in the different legal frameworks," Stephen explained.
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Lee Berlik, a Virginia-based attorney who specializes in defamation law and business litigation, said: "If Depp had filed that same case here in the US, he would have the burden of persuading the jury that the accusation was false."

He added: "It is remarkable that a judge in the UK found that the Sun had proven 12 separate acts of ‘wife beating’ by Depp, but in Virginia, a jury essentially found zero acts of domestic abuse and that Ms. Heard’s claims to the contrary were basically a 'hoax'."

Near the end of the trial, Heard's lawyer Elaine Bredehoft said to the jury: "They have said she has this whole hoax... but what would Amber Heard's motive be for creating a hoax or creating any of this or making any of this up?"

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