Most of the potential jurors in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard slander case claimed to know little about the case. Some were a little puzzled as they walked into Fairfax, VA, courthouse to see signs of “Justice for Johnny.” A potential juror admitted that he could not fully place the plaintiff’s ex-wife. “To be honest, I forgot the name of the other party,” he said.
It was evident from the relative speed with which it took to select the jury of 11 men and women as they sat in the middle of the afternoon. Preliminary arguments begin Tuesday.
During the four-hour interrogation, lawyers on each side gave a glimpse of what will come up during the trial as they pressured potential jurors on whether they had strong opinions or bias on a number of topics, including MeToo, domestic abuse. and sexual assault, alcohol and drug use, victim shaming, posting on well-known social media, police credibility, use of foul language and angry property destruction. It has all been part of the tabloid coverage of the case – and for the sake of good order, jurors were asked if they knew what Daily Mail is.
The judge in the case, Penney Azcarate, told jurors that the trial would last about six weeks, suggesting a complex case that could come down to the credibility of certain witnesses over others. The jury is not sequestered, but they were advised not to read or investigate the case, even to turn off their cell phone notifications to prevent them from seeing a news alert.
Amber Heard reads before Johnny Depp slander case: “I have always maintained a love for Johnny”
Fairfax is located 30 km southwest of Washington, DC, a suburban enclave that is well within its sphere of influence, but far removed to make the flow of cameras from a celebrity process a bit unusual for the city. On Monday, about 25 spectators were along with a Court TV truck and a row of about a dozen cameras, some hoping to catch a glimpse of Depp and others planning to remain for the duration of the trial in support. Some had strong feelings for Depp and Heard.
“I think he’s innocent and I think he’s right to do this,” said Raylyn Otey of Bluefield, VA. “As a feminist, you want to believe in women. You would like to think she’s telling the truth. But I just feel like I can look at her. I can see her in the eyes and I do not believe in her. And it really has nothing to do with Johnny Depp. I feel that there is a great injustice going on here, and I really believe that he will be affected. ”
Otey, who drove about five hours to get to Fairfax on Sunday, brought some flowers she would give him. But as it turned out, Depp went in through a side entrance and she did not see him.
One of the spectators, a financial adviser working across the street from the courthouse, was just curious after all the commotion.
“Someone jumped out of the parking lot three weeks ago,” he said, referring to a man who jumped from a five-story courthouse ramp but survived. “This is the biggest thing that has happened since then.”
The trial ended in Fairfax County because Heard wrote her 2018 statement, in which she identified herself as a victim of domestic violence but did not name Depp, for Washington Post, which is printed in nearby Springfield and circulated in the region. Until the state passed an anti-SLAPP law in 2020, Virginia had also been considered a bit more positively as a place to file defamation claims.
Unlike Depp’s fans who showed up as spectators, members of the jury pool said they were a little more in doubt about the case.
A potential jury member admitted that over the weekend he was fascinated enough by why the case was being held in Fairfax County that he turned up in Heard op-ed to see what it was all about. “I thought it was a very well-written opinion piece,” he said. He was not elected.
A number of those who had heard about the case said that what they knew was unmanageable. One woman said she learned from her 16-year-old daughter that “something was thrown” and that there was a crude language. She was not elected either.
Most of the potential jurors were a bit of a blank slate when it came to Hollywood. When asked if anyone worked in the industry or had family members who did, only one woman offered that her daughter recently got a job at Universal.
There was obvious knowledge of some of Depp’s films, but not so much of Heard’s films. A jury has been identified Aquaman.
That said, few of the potential jurors could say they do not use social media. “I just believe I could survive without it,” one woman said. During the trial, everyone in the courtroom must, as the use of phones and laptops is prohibited.