Day two of Johnny Depp’s and Amber Heard’s duel defamation trial provided little fireworks in terms of testimony. Today’s lone witness was Mr. Depp’s sister, Christi Dembrowski, who served as a character witness for the former Pirates of the Caribbean star. In testimony largely without relevance, she said she and her brother grew up in a household with a mother who was difficult to get along with and a father whose goal was to keep the peace. The purpose was to draw a correlation between Depp’s parent’s relationship dynamic and what he contends was his relationship status with Ms. Heard. She appeared to be tripped up at times during cross-examination – not recalling things she’d previously said that were documented in statements or not remembering their context.
The highlight of the day was the opening statements. For Team Depp, Ben Chew turned in a serviceable performance. Second chair Camille Vasquez read the second half of the opening salvo from a printed script. Neither offered anything those following the case haven’t heard before. It could have been pieced together by any number of fans online.
While Elaine Bredehoft appeared unrehearsed but very much prepared, she did drop the day’s biggest bombshell – Depp allegedly sexually assaulted Heard by penetrating her with a liquor bottle after he beat her.
It was Ben Rottenborn, however, who had the legal pundits talking. He clearly and concisely explained the definition of defamation to the jury and demonstrated precisely how Amber Heard’s 2018 op-ed for the Washington Post didn’t rise to that level and that her words were protected free speech.
“Mr. Depp will have to prove that Ms. Heard’s words were about him and that they were false,” Rottenborn said. “If he can’t do that… then he loses.”
Rottenborn said Depp’s team simply cannot prove his case and instead will try to distract and turn the proceedings into a soap opera.
To the contention that Ms. Heard’s op-ed caused Depp to lose his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, he said Disney had an entire dossier of all the bad press on Depp, and Amber’s op ed wasn’t even in there. It was never on their radar.
You can view the entire opening statement here: