- There’s no doubt Johnny Depp has the internet’s support in his defamation trial against Amber Heard.
- However, the same may not be said of a jury.
- While Depp’s fans online revel in his sarcasm and laughter, to a jury, it may not be so charming.
The internet has swayed immeasurably in Johnny Depp’s favor during his defamation trial against Amber Heard, but one legal expert told Insider the same may not be said of a jury.
On TikTok, the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp has 7.1 billion views, while #amberheardisaliar has 1.1 billion, and they are both growing exponentially. The appetite for pro-Depp content is only increasing, with the running like Jack Sparrow trend, memes and fancams of Depp on the stand circulating, and jabs at Heard and theories about her tactics and motives being rampantly discussed.
In one TikTok with over 5 million views posted by JessVal Ortiz — a popular creator with 7.6 million followers — on Wednesday, Depp can be seen giving high fives and receiving gifts from a mob of fans while being driven into the court house. Heard’s car, in contrast, does not have its windows rolled down at all, no crowds gather, and one lone voice cries out the words “lying” and “narcissistic.”
While anyone judging the case by the internet’s reaction would think Depp’s support was unquestioningly universal, the reality is a jury is looking at the case through a much different lens.
Emily D. Baker, a former district attorney and now YouTuber who has been extensively covering the trial, told Insider the jury has been instructed not to look up anything about the case on the internet, and so should be making their decision based on what happens in court alone. But fans have still made their way into the courtroom, and gather outside to catch a glimpse of their hero, which is likely to be distracting. Hordes of Depp defenders also boo at Heard leaving each day.
“For me, that kind of stuff crosses the line,” Baker said. “What’s playing out in court is playing out in court, but I just don’t think there’s that need for vitriol outside of a courthouse.”
Baker said the jury may think similarly, which “can actually hurt Johnny Depp’s side.”
“If the jurors leaving the courthouse see people out there booing, I think that could actually make them more empathetic to her,” she said.
Heard’s original article from 2018 made allegations of domestic abuse, which Depp is arguing were defamatory. But if the piece was all about what happens when women speak up about powerful men, Baker says the jury may feel like they are watching that story play out in real time.
“That could just impact their state of mind where they’re like, ‘I’m watching this happen,'” Baker said. “It can just be something in their mind saying, you know, she wasn’t a hundred percent wrong in this article.”
While Depp is heralded on TikTok and Twitter and being “sassy” and congratulated for keeping a sense of humor when he is seen laughing at Heard’s lawyers’ questions or her testimony, a jury may not see it that way. For instance, Depp answered Heard’s lawyer Benjamin Rottenborn’s questions with detectable sarcasm when he was on the stand. This was a big hit on TikTok, but Baker says it’s possible a jury may see him to be making light of serious abuse allegations.
“When he was saying ‘Yes, Mr. Rottenborn,’ and ‘Object to another one, Mr. Rottenborn,’ and this kind of back and forth, he did eventually get admonished by the judge to knock it off,” Baker said. “The public might love that, the jury might find it very, very off putting.”
None of this will matter though if winning the case in court isn’t Depp’s ultimate goal. He may just want his version of events out in the open to shake off the label of an abuser and get his career back on track. He has, after all, “paid tens of millions I’m sure in legal fees to get his side of the story in court,” Baker said. Meanwhile, severe allegations are likely to continue to emerge in the coming weeks now Heard has started testifying that could further shape the course of the trial.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website to receive confidential support.