The defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 11, in Fairfax, Virginia.
It stems from a complaint filed in 2019 by Depp, who alleges that his ex-wife, Heard, defamed him in an op-ed he wrote for washington post in 2018, in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” She has asked for 50 million dollars in damages.
Heard, in turn, filed a countersuit, accusing him of allegedly orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment.” He has asked for US$100 million in damages and immunity from Depp’s claims.
Before the trial, Depp and Heard published a list of witnesses their teams might want to call.
Each has submitted lists of objections to some of the other side’s witnesses, so the final pool of witnesses will be clearer and could evolve as proceedings progress.
Here are some of the people named as potential witnesses so far:
Tesla’s CEO is listed as a possible witness for Heard, who would appear via video link.
Potential witness lists do not include substantive reasons why a party’s legal team may wish to call a specific person as a witness.
Heard and Musk are believed to have dated on and off between 2016 and 2018. When Johnny Depp sued News Group Newspapers, the company that publishes Sunfor libel in the UK (by a headline calling him a “wife beater”), Musk appeared in the subsequent court case.
Eleanor Laws QC, who represented Depp, read text messages sent in May 2016 in which Heard told Musk that she was going to get a restraining order against her then-husband Depp.
Laws noted that Musk offered to “arrange 24/7 security” for Heard, adding: “The offer would stand, even if you never wanted to see me again… whatever, sorry. for being an idiot. The silence hurts a lot. It only matters because I really like you.”
Depp’s team cited some of Musk’s past communications with Heard as part of the Virginia libel case.
The actor is also among Heard’s potential witnesses, and is expected to appear via video link.
Depp’s side cited Franco for some of his previous communications and documents reflecting interactions with Heard.
Franco also appeared during the UK trial between Depp and Sun.
Joshua Drew, a friend of Heard’s, told the court that he had heard that Depp had a “particular problem” with Franco, and that mentioning his name “caused fights” between Heard and Depp.
The actor is among Depp’s list of potential witnesses, and is expected to appear via video link.
Bettany was subpoenaed by Heard’s team for some of his past communications with Depp.
Bettany was also mentioned during the earlier court case in the UK.
During a preliminary hearing in February 2020, texts from 2013 were revealed in which Depp allegedly wrote to Bettany: “Let’s burn Amber!!!”
Bettany is reported to have replied: “Having thought about it, I don’t think we should burn Amber, she’s lovely company and easy on the eye, plus I’m not sure she’s a witch. Of course, we could try the English course of action in these predicaments: we do a drowning test. How about?”.
Depp, in turn, is said to have replied: “Let’s drown her before we burn her! I’m going to fuck her burned corpse after her to make sure she’s dead.”
In an interview with the independent In December 2021, Bettany, questioned about the messages, said: “It was very strange. It was a strange moment. The strange thing about this was that all of a sudden you have one of the scruffiest newspapers in London and their lawyers reviewing your writing from the last 10 years.
“Can you honestly imagine what it would be like to have a group of lawyers go through every one of your emails and text messages from 10 years ago? All I can tell you is that it was an unpleasant feeling.”
Depp himself is listed as a witness on his own list, as well as Heard’s, and would appear in person.
He is considered both a plaintiff in the original lawsuit he filed and a defendant in Heard’s counterclaim.
Heard is included in her own witness list.
She does not appear as a potential witness on Depp’s list at this time.
Heard is considered a defendant in Depp’s defamation lawsuit and a plaintiff in the countersuit he filed against him.
For a timeline of Heard and Depp’s relationship and legal battles, click here.