Experts warn calling Johnny Depp back on the stand could be ‘risky’

Bringing Amber Heard back to the witness stand could be a “risk” – partly because he was so sympathetic when testifying in the former couple’s bombshell defamation trial, legal experts have told The Post.

Sources close to Heard told The Post last week that the Aquaman actress’ legal team may be planning to have Depp testify again while they represent her side in the ongoing court battle in Fairfax, Virginia.

But the Pirates of the Caribbean star, who has already testified for four days, came across as credible and personable to the jury, experts said – noting that giving him a second round on the witness stand could hurt Heard’s case.

“There is a risk that he will have more time to be sympathetic on the stand,” said civil attorney Katherine Lizardo, “when it is actually time for Amber Heard to present her case.”

Seattle libel attorney Bruce Johnson agreed that Depp’s apparent sympathy could be a problem for Heard.

“It’s a huge risk — if he’s a good witness and he’s going to perform well again,” Johnson told the Post.

Halim Dhanidina – a former California judge and current criminal defense attorney – said Depp’s “very unique personality” probably made him appealing to the jury the first time.

“He didn’t really strike me as someone who was faking or fabricating,” Dhanidina said. “The jury will want to know if they can trust testimonies based not on how smart the witness appears, but on how sincere they are.”

Depp, 58, is suing his 36-year-old ex-wife, accusing her of defaming him when she described herself as “a public figure who depicts domestic violence” in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.

U.S. actress Amber Heard (L) testifies as U.S. actor Johnny Depp looks on during a libel trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse May 5, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Amber Heard previously accused Johnny Depp’s legal team of editing photographic evidence of the actor’s alleged bruises in his eyes.

Heard has filed a $100 million countersuit alleging that Depp defamed her by accusing her of lying about the alleged abuse.

Her side is now presenting her case, concluding with Heard’s fourth day of standing on Tuesday, and continuing to call witnesses through to closing arguments, which are expected on May 27.

“Right now we’re hearing Amber Heard’s … side of the story,” said Lizardo, an attorney who represents plaintiffs in civil litigation.

Follow The Post’s live coverage of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial

“Calling your opponent to speak on your behalf sounds counterintuitive.”

Dhanidina noted that Depp could try to get the “advantage” if he gets a chance to appeal to the jury again.

Actress Amber Heard testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse on May 17, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia, United States.
Amber Heard’s lawyer will reportedly ask Johnny Depp to testify again with actress Ellen Barkin.
Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS

“If he gets on the jury and the jury likes him, then more jury time is a good thing for him,” the former judge said. “It could be something [Heard] but does it out of necessity [Depp] can benefit from it myself.”

However, the jury would not get an explanation as to why Depp is back on track, which Lizardo noted could “confuse” them.

“Most of the time the cross-examination sounds hostile,” she explained. “A jury might think, ‘Okay, he’s back on the stand. Are you harassing him again?’”

Johnson, the libel attorney, also said Heard’s team needs to weigh whether calling Depp again will draw the jury’s attention – as some jurors were reportedly seen dozing off as the trial enters its fifth week.

Actor Johnny Depp gestures as he leaves the courtroom for a break during the Depp vs. Heard libel trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, United States, May 17, 2022.
Seattle defamation attorney Bruce Johnson believes Johnny Depp will “do well again” no matter what Amber Heard’s attorneys ask him about.

“You’re giving a performance for a jury and you don’t want to drag it out too long,” Johnson said. “In any long process, that’s a consideration.”

However, some of the pundits noted that Heard’s attorneys could try to get the upper hand on Depp while they grill him again.

“I would guess they want to cut [Depp] too small,” Virginia libel attorney Jeremiah Denton told the Post.

Johnny Depp demonstrates how he protected himself during an alleged assault by Amber Heard during testimony on April 20, 2022.
Johnny Depp demonstrates how he protected himself during an alleged assault by Amber Heard during testimony on April 20, 2022.

“He did quite well in his first appearance in the stands so I think they feel like they really have to attack his credibility – it could be his memory, his veracity [or] cover something that hasn’t been covered,” Denton said.

Dhanidina said Heard’s lawyers could potentially surprise Depp with their questions because they likely “have new issues and new areas to cover,” including issues they weren’t allowed to question him on the first time.

But the more time Depp has on the stand, the more opportunity he has to make a mistake and contradict something he’s said before, experts agreed.

Actor Johnny Depp testifies that a can of mineral spirits struck actress Amber Heard through him in the courtroom of the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse on April 25, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Attorney Katherine Lizardo predicts jury will favor Johnny Depp as he continues to testify.

“The more a witness speaks, the more likely they are to say things that could easily be contradicted,” Johnson said. “Even if they try to be honest, we all have memory lapses.”

Dhanidina said, while he can’t predict which side would benefit more from a second dork display in the stands: “Buckle your seatbelts because it’s going to be very, very interesting.”

“Any time a party is questioned by the other side, it can be very, very difficult to predict who is going to win and whether it will resemble a chess game or a fight with knockdown and displacement,” Dhanidina said. “And we don’t really know what we’re going to get.”

Reps for Depp and Heard both declined to comment. Experts warn calling Johnny Depp back on the stand could be ‘risky’


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