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Johnny Depp wins defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard

The jury spent three days deliberating and found no instances of abuse. Depp said in a statement, “The jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled."

After three days of deliberation, a verdict in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's contentious defamation trial has been reached.

The jury sorted through six weeks of testimony, including testimonies from both of the embattled actors whose relationship history is at the center of the trial.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for the Washington Post in 2018, in which she identified as a “public figure representing domestic abuse." While Depp is not named in the op-ed, Depp’s legal team argued in the initial complaint that the article is a “clear implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser.” Depp denied all allegations of abuse.

Heard's legal team countersued for $100 million, saying Depp and his legal team defamed her by launching a "smear campaign" and devaluing her allegations of domestic abuse.

The questions the jury decided on: Did the allegations cause damages for either Heard or Depp? Was defamation found on one side, both sides, or neither? And should damages be awarded?

The jury unanimously found "clear and convincing evidence" that Heard defamed Depp when she wrote the op-ed, and acted with actual malice. The jury awarded $10 million in damages to Depp in terms of compensatory damages, relating to jobs and opportunities lost, and $5 million in punitive damages.

However, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the punitive damages the jury awarded to Depp to $350,000, which is the state’s statutory cap or legal limit, making his total damages $10.4 million, per NBC News.

There were three statements at issue in Heard's counterclaim. The jury found one statement defamatory and awarded $2 million in damages.

The jury had to find zero instances of abuse in order to make this decision — and so the verdict is effectively a rejection of Heard’s testimony.

Heard responded to the verdict in a statement

“The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband," she said.

"I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback. It sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated. It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously.

"I believe Johnny’s attorneys succeeded in getting the jury to overlook the key issue of Freedom of Speech and ignore evidence that was so conclusive that we won in the UK.

"I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”

Depp also issued a statement after the verdict was reached

"Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed.

"All in the blink of an eye.

"False, very serious and criminal allegations were levied at me via the media, which triggered an endless barrage of hateful content, although no charges were ever brought against me. It had already traveled around the world twice within a nanosecond and it had a seismic impact on my life and my career.

"And six years later, the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.

"My decision to pursue this case, knowing very well the height of the legal hurdles that I would be facing and the inevitable, worldwide spectacle into my life, was only made after considerable thought.

"From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.

"I am, and have been, overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the colossal support and kindness from around the world. I hope that my quest to have the truth be told will have helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those supporting them never give up. I also hope that the position will now return to innocent until proven guilty, both within the courts and in the media.

"I wish to acknowledge the noble work of the Judge, the jurors, the court staff and the Sheriffs who have sacrificed their own time to get to this point, and to my diligent and unwavering legal team who did an extraordinary job in helping me to share the truth.

"The best is yet to come and a new chapter has finally begun," Depp said.