Virginia: Why is the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial taking place there?

The explosive libel trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is unfolding far outside of their normal Hollywood orbit – in a courthouse in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife alleges she defamed him in a comment published in December 2018 The Washington Post entitled “I spoke out against sexual violence – and faced the wrath of our culture. That needs to change.”

The process takes place in Fairfax, as the online edition of The post will be released via servers in the county, allowing Mr. Depp to sue them in that area.

According to the Associated Press, Ms. Heard’s attorneys attempted to move the trial to California, but Mr. Depp’s attorneys said one of the reasons they decided to sue in Virginia was the state’s anti-SLAPP legislation, which didn’t is as far-reaching as in California.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Citizen Participation. “Anti-SLAPP laws are designed to remedy SLAPP lawsuits. Anti-SLAPP laws are designed to prevent people from using courts and potential threats of a lawsuit to intimidate people exercising their First Amendment rights,” according to the Reporters Committee.

In her 2018 commentary, Ms Heard wrote, in part, that “like many women, I was molested and sexually assaulted when I was college-age. But I said nothing – I didn’t expect that filing complaints would bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim.”

“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic violence, and I felt the full brunt of our culture’s anger at women speaking out,” she added at the time.

While Mr Depp is not named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking “not less than $50 million” in damages.

Ms Heard has filed a $100 million counterclaim against Mr Depp for harassment and immunity from his allegations. Virginia: Why is the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial taking place there?

Bobby Allyn

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