The Innocent Pirate’s attorney has claimed that social media “played no role whatsoever” in the jury’s verdict in his defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard.
Ben Chew, who represented the Pirates actor at the trial in Fairfax, Virginia, dismissed claims from Ms Heard’s legal team that the social media circus surrounding the case could have influenced the outcome.
“My view is that social media played no role whatsoever,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday morning.
“This was a decision made by the jury in the evidence presented on both sides.
“And as Camille [Vasquez] said, it was overwhelmingly in Depp’s favour.”
Mr Chew and Ms Vasquez, who both became the focus of a bizarre online fandom during their work on the case, insisted to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the “key to victory” was the “facts” and “evidence” heard in the courtroom.
“I think the key to victory was focusing on the facts and the evidence and Johnny’s opportunity to speak the truth for the first time,” said Ms Vasquez.
She added that it was “six years in the making”, saying: “He was able to connect with the jury and the general public and tell what really happened in this relationship”.
Their comments come after Ms Heard’s attorney said she believed jurors could have been influenced by the “lopsided” social media frenzy around the case, which was skewed dramatically in Mr Depp’s favour.
Elaine Bredehoft appeared on The Today Show on Thursday morning – just hours after the jury handed down its verdict finding that Ms Heard defamed her ex-husband in a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post.
“How can you not[be influenced]?” she asked.
“They went home every night. They have families. The families are on social media.
“We had a 10-day break in the middle because of the judicial conference. There’s no way they couldn’t have been influenced by it.”
Last week, Mr Depp won his defamation lawsuit against Ms Heard after a jury of seven determined that she had defamed him on all three counts in a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post.
In the op-ed, Ms Heard described herself as a victim of domestic abuse and spoke of feeling “the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out”.
Jurors awarded Mr Depp $10m in compensatory damages and $5m in punitive damages, before Fairfax County Circuit Judge Penney Azcarate reduced the latter to the state’s legal limit of $350,000.
Ms Heard won one of her three counterclaims against her ex-husband, with the jury finding that Mr Depp – via his lawyer Adam Waldman – defamed her by branding her abuse allegations “fake” and a “sexual violence hoax”.
She was awarded $2m in compensatory damages but $0 in punitive damages, leaving the Aquaman actress $8.35m out of pocket.
Ms Heard described the verdict as “a setback” for women who speak up with allegations of abuse and her attorney has already said she plans to appeal.