Depp v. Heard: My Unpopular Opinion

Dior is the only one coming out of this trial happy; neither Johnny Depp nor Amber Heard will come out in one piece, and the court of public opinion is at an all-time low.

As a law student who aspires to change the way abuse, family court, and general civil matters surrounding the family unit are conducted and perceived, the public’s synthetization of the Depp v. Heard trial is, at best, disheartening.

It’s important to back up and understand why this trial is taking place in order to clearly see how far off public opinion regarding it is placed. Like anything that happens in court, this is not an issue as to who is right or wrong, it’s an issue of how a handful of facts pertain to the law.

There are four elements that need to be met, in order to prevail in a defamation suit:

1) a false statement purporting to be fact;

2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person;

3) fault amounting to at least negligence; and

4) damages, or some harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.

If this were a law school question, I would explain that because elements 2-4 are satisfied, element one needs to be examined. Element 1 is regarding whether abuse did or did not happen. Therefore, who was more often the antagonist in the relationship and who was more often the protagonist is beside the point.

It’s Ironic

Legally, the core reasoning for Johnny Depp’s lawsuit is to recover monetary damages for the fallen deals that allegedly would have otherwise gone through, if not for Amber Heard alleging he abused her. Yet, this trial has brought out private, embarrassing facts about both parties.

Who is going to want to work with either of them now (excluding Dior, who clearly has a blood oath with Johnny Depp and is rolling the free publicity)?

Amber Heard is only worth $8 million, but Johnny Depp is suing her for $50 million. These basic facts point to the glaring issue that this case isn’t even about recouping monetary damages. It’s about putting on a show and proving a point, which the public has clearly, blindly fallen in support of.

Cue an image of Captain Jack Sparrow lighting a pitchfork and a million internet trolls dressed as pirates (that all think they’re lawyers) jumping behind him.

Everyone is a lawyer now

The video of Amber Heard’s lawyer stopping his own witness from getting off topic went viral the day of, as if he were an absolute idiot for stopping his own witness. In reality, this isn’t uncommon at all in court. If witnesses were allowed to get on a stand, answer a question, then ramble on as they would like, chaos would ensue. At that point, testimonies from witnesses just become opinions.

People do not understand the lack of information that is actually being provided in court. Not only is it impossible to ever know what actually goes on in anyone’s relationship, but only a small amount of information about relationships even make it to court. So few details actually make it to court in civil suits. People do not realize that when they’re taking the tip of an iceberg and dissecting it down to tiny fragments (when no one asked them to, by the way), they still only know about 0.05% of what happened in reality.

It’s all murky. So many things do not add up in this trial, which further proves no one knows what they’re talking about when making such definitive statements.

Constance Grady explained this well:

“When the pair eventually reached an out-of-court divorce settlement in August 2016, Heard withdrew her request for a permanent restraining order. The pair also issued a joint statement that bizarrely made the claim that neither of the contradictory statements each made about each other were true. On the one hand, “There was never an intent of physical or emotional harm” (so Depp wasn’t abusive), and on the other, “Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains” (so Heard wasn’t lying for a better financial settlement).”

I hope to one day hold the confidence of online users that believe they have the knowledge of doctors in a pandemic, diplomats during an international crisis, and lawyers during a celebrity civil suit

This isn’t a spectator sport. The root of the problem is that everyone thinks their opinions matter way more than they actually do.

The way people have been hashtagging #justiceforJohnnyDepp and #believeallwomen throughout this trial reminds me of the choosing of sides that occurs in any family or relationship fallout when so little facts are known.

Better yet, it reminds me of the people who believe themselves to be more noble than the formerly mentioned when they say “I’m not choosing sides” to someone going through a divorce. No one asked you to, Nancy. You aren’t that important.

Save your brainpower, voice, and thumbs to care about something that actually matters.

There are actual things that matter right now with solid facts to learn about like the conflict in Ukraine and our post-pandemic economy. Read, learn, and have educated discussions about your beliefs regarding Roe v. Wade, rather than a civil suit where opinions should only matter to a judge and a jury.

Deon Sumer
Hi, I’m Deon! I grew up in Zachary, Louisiana. I am currently attending Southern University Law Center part-time, where I am also a teaching assistant, with the intention of practicing family law. I work full-time at the East Baton Rouge Law Office of the Public Defender as a secretary. I had my daughter, Evelyn, in the fall of 2018 and am engaged to an amazing, supportive man named Ryan. I love traveling and exploring new places. A plane ticket to anywhere with a rental car waiting for me is a solid vacation. I have a degree in mass communications with a concentration in public relations and a minor in political science from LSU. I have a rescue dog at home and love helping with animal welfare efforts. My daughter’s first word was dog (or ‘gog’). I'm also always looking for ways to join the fight against Louisiana's domestic violence epidemic. I spend the majority of my free time gardening or wandering around our neighborhood with my family.


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