The Johnny Depp suit against Amber Hard begins with a jury pick

By Matthew Barakat, Associated Press.

46 minutes ago

Johnny Depp was selected by a jury on Monday to hear a long-awaited defamation suit against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, who he accused of falsely portraying him as a domestic abuser.

Depp sued Hard for an op-ed piece he wrote in the Washington Post in 2018, in which Hard described himself as a “public figure representing domestic violence.” The article did not name Depp, but said it clearly referred to allegations made against Heard in other forums that he had been physically abused. Depp has denied the allegations.

The lawsuit brings little Hollywood to court with a long history of dealing with high-profile crime, not just movie stars.

More than a dozen women waved flags in recognition of Depp’s signature role in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” as they waited outside the courtroom for an hour before the hearing.

The City of Fairfax City Courtroom was closed to the public on Monday, with limited closed circuit access to an overflow courtroom. People lined up before 8am to access the wristband. Both Depp and Hard were present, but court staff used special access points to bring them in and out, much to the dismay of fans.

The presiding judge, Penny Azcaret, imposed a series of access rules to try to maintain courtesy. Most importantly, neither Depp nor Hard is allowed to pose for photos or sign autographs in the courthouse or on the grounds of the courthouse.

Depp’s fans have been vocal in their support, saying he has been falsely accused. Relin OT, a Depp fan from Bluefield, Virginia, drove five hours to see the movie star. He was disappointed when Depp did not personally greet the fans, as the sheriff’s deputies carefully restricted fan access.

“I’m very disappointed. I’ve come to give her flowers to show her some support,” he said, holding a bouquet.

In a separate lawsuit filed by Depp against a British newspaper, a judge dismissed the case, discovering that Depp had assaulted Hayard on a dozen occasions and threatened him for his life on several occasions.

Hard has filed a counter-lawsuit against Depp, accusing his lawyers of defaming him at his direction.

Hard’s lawyers tried unsuccessfully to move the case to California, where the actors live. A Fairfax judge ruled that Depp had the right to bring the case here because online versions of the post were published through a server located in Fairfax County. Depp’s lawyers say they have brought the case to Virginia in part because the law here is more favorable to their case.

A jury of seven and four options were chosen by Monday afternoon. Small juries are common for civil trials in Virginia.

The opening statement is scheduled for Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last more than a month. A long list of witnesses includes actor James Franco and Paul Betany and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk. Some witnesses are expected to appear in person, others will testify via video link.

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