Amber Heard’s legal team may be planning for Johnny Depp to stand up in court again, but experts say there’s a reason that could work against her.
Amber Heard calling on Johnny Depp to return to testifying could be a ‘risk’, in part because of how likeable he was when he first testified during a high-profile defamation lawsuit he filed against his ex-wife, lawyers say .
This was reported by sources close to Hurd. Mail last week that her legal team could get Depp to testify again as they defend her side in an ongoing courtroom battle in Fairfax, Virginia.
But any such plan could backfire, as the actor, who has stood as a witness for four days, seemed plausible and likeable to jurors, experts say. Giving him a second round on the podium could inadvertently hurt Heard’s case.
“There is a risk that he will have more time to be likable on the podium,” said civil defense attorney Katherine Lizardo, “when it’s actually time for Amber Heard to present her case.”
Seattle-based defamation lawyer Bruce Johnson agreed that Depp’s apparent attractiveness could be a problem for Hurd.
“It’s a huge risk if he’s a good witness and does well again,” Johnson said. Mail.
Halim Dkhanidina, a criminal defense attorney and former California judge, said Depp’s “very unique personality” likely made him go to the jury for the first time.
“He didn’t really strike me as someone who was pretending or fabricating,” he said. “Jurors will want to know if they can rely on testimony based not on how smart the witness seems, but on how sincere they are.”
Depp, 58, is suing his 36-year-old ex-wife for $50 million (AU$70 million), accusing her of defaming him when she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic violence” in 2018. Washington Post ed.
Hurd filed a $100 million (AU$134 million) counterclaim, alleging that it was Depp who slandered her for lying about the alleged abuse.
Her side is presenting its case now, wrapping up the fourth day of Heard’s speech on Tuesday and continuing to call witnesses until closing arguments are expected on May 27.
“Right now we’re hearing Amber Heard’s opinion… about this story,” Ms. Lizardo said.
“Calling her opponent to speak on your behalf sounds illogical.”
Mr. Dunedina noted that Depp could try to get an “advantage” if he gets a chance to testify before the jury again.
“If he lands with the jury and if the jury likes him, then more time in front of the jury is good for him,” he said. “Maybe something like that [Heard] does as needed, but [Depp] can benefit from it.”
The jury, however, will not be given an explanation as to why Depp is back in the dock, which could “confuse” them, Ms Lizardo added.
“Most of the time when you do cross-examination, it sounds hostile,” she said. “The jury might be thinking, ‘OK, he’s back in business. Are they pestering him again?”
Dignity attorney Mr. Johnson also said the Hurd team needed to weigh whether Depp’s new call would distract the jurors’ attention, as some jurors were reportedly seen dozing as the trial entered its fifth week.
“You’re putting on a show for the jury and you don’t want to drag it out too long,” Mr. Johnson said. “In any lengthy litigation, this is a consideration.”
Some pundits, however, have said that Heard’s legal team could try to get the better of Depp if they bring him back to court.
“I suspect they will want to cut [Depp] up to size,” said Virginia defamation attorney Jeremiah Denton. Mail.
“He did quite well in his first appearance on the podium, so I think they feel they should definitely attack his credibility – it could be his memory, his veracity. [or] covering something that wasn’t covered,” Mr. Denton said.
Dunedina said Hurd’s lawyers may be able to catch Depp off guard with their questions, as they are likely to “have new topics and new areas to cover,” including topics they weren’t allowed to question him about the first time around.
But the more time Depp has on the podium, the more likely he is to stumble and refute what he said earlier, all the experts agreed.
“The more a witness talks, the more likely they are to say things that can be easily refuted,” Johnson said. “Even if they try to be honest, we all have memory lapses.”
Mr. Dunedina said he couldn’t predict which side would benefit more from Depp’s second stint on the podium, but if it did, it would certainly grab the world’s attention.
“Brace yourselves because it’s going to be very, very exciting soon,” he said.
“Any time you have a side being questioned by the other side, it can be very, very difficult to predict who will win and whether it will be like a chess match or a knockdown, a drawn-out fight,” Mr Dunedina said. “And we don’t really know what we’re going to get.”
Representatives for Depp and Heard declined to comment.
This article originally appeared on New York Post and reproduced with permission