June 25, 2024


Law for politics

Johnny Depp verdict: Legal experts believe Washington Post could be held liable too, but case would be tricky


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Actor Johnny Depp won his defamation circumstance versus ex-spouse Amber Read and authorized experts think the Washington Write-up could be liable for publishing the op-ed at the center of the bombshell trial, but that circumstance may be difficult to make.

The jury uncovered that Read was liable for defamatory comments she designed towards Depp in the 2018 op-ed printed in the Washington Post, where by she implicitly accused him of domestic abuse. The jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages Choose Penney Azcarate minimized Depp’s punitive damages award from $5 million to $350,000, the greatest underneath Virginia law, bringing the overall sum to just above $10 million.

“I totally believe that the Washington Post need to be held accountable as properly in this case. A jury just made the decision that all three of the statements in that Washington Post op-ed ended up considered defamatory,” criminal protection legal professional Brian Claypool explained to Fox Information Electronic. 

“On major of that, they also considered that Amber Read acted in a punitive way with falsifying these stories. So it is the duty of a newspaper and other media stores to vet or filter facts prior to they publish it to the globe and most likely damage the status of somebody irreparably,” Claypool extra. “The Washington Write-up is not off the hook.” 

Amber Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post that a jury found to contain defamatory comments against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

Amber Heard wrote an op-ed for the Washington Put up that a jury located to have defamatory reviews in opposition to her ex-spouse, Johnny Depp.
(Kevin Lamarque/Pool by way of Reuters)


Claypool felt Depp’s workforce really should deliver lawful action in opposition to the newspaper owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos to set a precedent for comparable scenarios heading ahead. 

“You have obtained to do your owing diligence before putting up that posting. You can not simply have any person stroll into your workplace and say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m accusing Johnny Depp of all these bad issues,’ just before heading out and doing thanks diligence,” Claypool mentioned. “I assume it is incumbent upon Johnny Depp’s workforce to provide a lawful action versus The Washington Post, to set a precedent in the upcoming that all media retailers want to be excess careful right before they publish to the world allegations of domestic violence.” 

Claypool thinks the jury ruling in favor of Depp would make a scenario versus the Article simpler for the reason that the concerns have by now been litigated. 

“To me, the serious perpetrator in this Depp as opposed to Read circumstance is The Washington Put up,” Claypool said. “With out the Washington Submit op-ed staying posted, then there would have never been a defamation situation.” 

Lawful Insurrection founder William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law University, isn’t as convinced that the Post could be held liable, but he doesn’t fully rule it out. 

 “So the query is no matter whether the Washington Put up should really be held liable for a defamatory op-ed composed by an personal who is not utilized by The Washington Write-up,” Jacobson told Fox Information Digital. 

“Could they perhaps be liable? Sure, they could perhaps be liable, but it would lawfully impose yet another action on the plaintiff, which is to demonstrate that the editors, and the Washington Post by itself, had some kind of imputed knowledge or imputed rationale to believe that her firsthand accusations ended up untruthful,” Jacobson ongoing. 


The Washington Post issued a lengthy editor’s note on the 2018 Amber Heard op-ed at the center of Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife.

The Washington Article issued a lengthy editor’s take note on the 2018 Amber Read op-ed at the center of Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife.
(Eric Baradat/AFP by means of Getty Images)

Jacobson explained that Depp’s legal crew would have a considerably much more challenging time proving the Post was liable for defamatory remarks than it did when a jury dominated in his favor versus Heard. 

“The normal common that you would have to clearly show for a general public figure like Johnny Depp would be recognized to her, but would the falsity or the reckless disregard for the truth of the matter be imputed to the publisher? And that would be a factual issue,” Jacobson stated. “So it is possibly anything that the Washington Post would be on the hook for, but it would be a a great deal far more challenging situation to make.” 

Jacobson reported that op-eds by themselves are not exempt from opportunity defamation lawsuits, but there is a “increased hurdle” to acquire this kind of a circumstance. 

“Folks have a constitutional suitable to categorical their viewpoints, whether it bleeds in excess of to a wrong statement of details that negatively impugn somebody’s popularity and is defamatory is a factual concern,” Jacobson stated, noting that specifics of the op-ed could turn out to be an challenge if Heard’s crew appeals the verdict.  

“This was a publication of an op-ed which did not point out his identify, did not really condition a lot of info,” he reported. “I would not be shocked if this is an situation on enchantment.”  

The New York Occasions reported on Thursday that Heard ideas to appeal the selection. 

ELON MUSK WEIGHS IN ON DEPP-Listened to Trial: ‘I HOPE THEY Equally Go ON’

Legal experts think the Washington Post could be liable for publishing the op-ed that a jury found made defamatory comments against actor Johnny Depp.

Lawful industry experts think the Washington Put up could be liable for publishing the op-ed that a jury observed manufactured defamatory opinions from actor Johnny Depp.
(AP Picture/Craig Hudson)

Though Claypool feels Depp really should go after a scenario in opposition to the Article, Jacobson is not so certain. 

“Whether or not Johnny Depp goes right after The Washington Put up, I consider is a strategic concern. He has currently won, he has now been awarded the damages that he would be entitled to, so I can not see how he would get more damages, due to the fact the jury has presently mentioned, ‘Here is how you have been weakened and here are your compensatory damages,’” Jacobson stated. “So I are unable to see how he would get much more damages when a jury’s currently awarded him the problems he suffered.”

Jacobson also feels it was “very strategic” that Depp did not identify the Submit in the initial suit. 

“They would have had defenses that Amber Listened to did not have,” he said. “In addition, it may well have distracted the jury’s notice from what Johnny Depp apparently desired, which is to place her on demo, not to set an editor of the Washington Article on trial, but to place her on demo and I feel that they designed that strategic determination. I would be astonished if they moved past that at this issue.” 

Johnny Depp testifies during his defamation trial in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Virginia, on April 19, 2022.

Johnny Depp testifies for the duration of his defamation demo in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Virginia, on April 19, 2022.
(Jim Watson/Pool/AFP)

On Thursday the Washington Write-up extra a lengthy editor’s be aware to the initial story. 

Editor’s notice, June 2, 2022: In 2019, Johnny Depp sued Amber Read for defamation arising out of this 2018 op-ed. On June 1, 2022, next a trial in Fairfax County, Va. Circuit Court, a jury observed Read liable on a few counts for the next statements, which Depp claimed ended up false and defamatory: (1) ‘I spoke up from sexual violence — and confronted our culture’s wrath. That has to change.’ (2) ‘Then two decades in the past, I became a public determine representing domestic abuse, and I felt the complete drive of our culture’s wrath for women who converse out.’ (3) ‘I had the uncommon vantage issue of seeing, in real time, how establishments guard adult men accused of abuse. The jury separately uncovered that Depp, as a result of his attorney Adam Waldman, defamed Read in just one of three counts in her countersuit,” the Washington Post wrote. 


Jacobson feels the editor’s notice was correct, while he’s not certain it will insulate them from potential liability.  

“It was the right thing to do where you experienced an op-ed penned by somebody and that op-ed released in your newspaper was, in fact, the topic of a unfavorable jury verdict. I think it was acceptable for them to add that take note to it, so that any one in the long term heading ahead reading through it would know what at least a jury has held about that,” Jacobson reported. 

The Washington Write-up declined more comment and pointed Fox News Digital to the editor’s note when questioned about the problem. 

The customers of the jury also awarded Listened to $2 million in compensatory damages above a defamatory statement Depp manufactured by way of his legal professional. 

Amber Heard testified on May 5, 2022, during Depp's defamation trial against her.

Amber Read testified on May perhaps 5, 2022, through Depp’s defamation demo in opposition to her.
(Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Photograph by means of AP)

The trial that established a media frenzy doesn’t show up to be leaving the cultural zeitgeist whenever before long. Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy took to Twitter immediately next the verdict and instructed the Post should not be permit off the hook for its function in the saga. 

“She posted this detail mainly stating that Johnny Depp hit her, abused her, did all these horrible matters, domestic violence, sexual deviancy, all this things up in the Washington Write-up. And what is actually the Washington Article? They keep no accountability in this?” Portnoy questioned in a online video information. 

OutKick founder Clay Travis, who is also a lawyer, feels the Washington Put up released “fake news” by working Heard’s op-ed. 

“There possibly is a declare from the Washington Write-up,” Travis said Wednesday night on “Hannity.”

“This was an op-ed piece, suitable? So she’s proclaiming to notify the truth, to what extent was there an investigation completed? Recall they certainly wrote the headline, which was a important consequential aspect of this circumstance,” Travis mentioned. 

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Fox News contributor Joe Concha, who was on the panel with Travis and Sean Hannity, reminded viewers that previous Covington Catholic Large Faculty university student Nick Sandmann has settled multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuits from news businesses, like the Washington Post, about botched coverage that portrayed him as the aggressor in a viral 2019 confrontation with a Native American man. 

“I think Sandmann right here most likely is the most appropriate man or woman to imagine about if Johnny Depp’s future shift in courtroom is to go soon after the Washington Submit, due to the fact you bear in mind, the Article together with CNN, they were sued for defamation by a substantial university college student to the tune of $275 million every and each of these publications had been compelled to settle,” Concha mentioned. “So, will the Publish be struggling with a similar accommodate here from Johnny Depp? I indicate, remain tuned.” 

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Janelle Ash and Rebecca Rosenberg contributed to this report. 

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