Amber Heard's Motion to Toss out Johnny Depp's Defamation Case Rejected by Judge

The judge in Johnny Depp's defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard has refused to dismiss the case as Depp's side in the high-profile trial rested its case Tuesday. Depp is suing Heard for $50 million, claiming that the Aquaman star cost him tens of millions of dollars and his role in the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean movie when she published an op-ed in The Washington Post discussing her experience as a survivor of alleged domestic violence, despite not naming him specifically.

The televised trial began on April 11 in Fairfax, Virginia, and Depp's side rested its case Tuesday after presenting two final witnesses, a nurse and forensic accountant. Heard's attorney then made a routine motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Depp's legal team failed to present enough evidence to prove his case, but expectedly, Judge Penney Azcarate denied the motion. Heard's attorneys will now begin to present their case for the defense, and the actress herself is expected to take the stand on Wednesday.

With his lawsuit, Depp is targeting three statements in Heard's op-ed as defamatory – the reference to "sexual violence" in the headline; a paragraph in which Heard calls herself a "public figure representing domestic abuse;" and a paragraph in which she discusses "how institutions protect men accused of abuse." 

Heard's attorney, Ben Rottenborn, argued Tuesday that the headline was not under the purview of his client, as it was written by The Washington Post, and that there was no dispute that Depp verbally abused Heard, as some of that abuse was captured on tape and played for the jury. "If Mr. Depp abused Ms. Heard – physically, emotionally, psychologically – even one time, then she wins," Rottenborn argued in court.


Depp's attorney, Ben Chew, countered that the plaintiff's legal team had put forth sufficient evidence to prove defamation, pointing to Heard tweeting out the op-ed as a sign that she was culpable for every piece of what was published, including the headline. He then said that Depp's own testimony, as well as audio of Heard admitting to "hitting" the actor was enough to prove his case. "Ms. Heard physically abused him," Chew said. "She's the abuser in this courtroom."