Mirah’s Refections: The Depp/Heard Fiasco

Mirah Riben, author and activist
3 min readApr 26, 2022

What is all the Mud-Slinging about?

Even if you don’t care and are not following the trial, it’s hard to avoid hearing excerpts on the nightly news of the Depp-Heard rematch: the uber ultimate he said / she said that makes War of the Roses look like an adorably cute romantic comedy. A timeline of their tumultuous relationship was published by Vulture here.

Married less than two years, it has become obvious that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are a match — on gasoline. They seem to thrive on drinking, drugging and torturing one another — and themselves — verbally, if not physically.

Depp is suing Heard for $50 million because he claimss that as a result of an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post his career “took a nose dive.” What is truly ironic is that one has to wonder if Depp thinks the revelations of his self-abusive and lurid behavior and his vile texts revealed in this trial are — or will — help his career. Certainly it is adding to his bad-boy reputation and titilating the fans and groupies who idolize him and or notorious wild ones in general. Heard is counter suing for $100M.

Abuse is alleged by both parties and likely ocurred mutually, at the very least verbally. Depp does not deny his drug use and is annoying laughing and smirking about all of it.

But let’s be clear. This is not Depp — or Heard’s — guilt or innocence as a abuser. This a civil suit (and countersuit) for defamation.

In the 2018 op-ed at the center of the current court battle Heard writes of childhood abuse and abuse she experienced and/or witnessed in college and the workplace and intuitional machismo and the MeToo movement. The closest Heard comes to mentioning relationship or s;ousal abuse is is stating that she “represent[s] domestic abuse” as a public figure and she then goes on to decry the backlash she faced as a result. It’s a cultural, political, feminist staetment and call for action.

Does Depp have a case for defamation?

In order to prove defamation, the plaintiff (Depp)must prove four things:

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.

Here it is. You decide. Opinion: Amber Heard: I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

Is there anything actionable as defamation as defined herein? What did she lie about? Clarely he was abusive — even if she sometimes was as well. How was Depp defamed? One might also wonder why he didn’t sue her for filing “false” domestic abuse charges instead.

The Ramifications

The ramifications go way beyond these two individuals and the media circus their dirty laundry created. A win for Depp is a blow against freedom of speech and will set back domestic abuse victims decades and decades. She was abused and did not mention his name.


The jury found that both parties defamed one another. They awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million dollars in punitive damages. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and no money for punitive damages.

It is interesting to note that “a judge in the U.K. found that the Sun had proven 12 separate acts of ‘wife beating’ by Depp, but in Virginia a jury essentially found zero acts of domestic abuse and that Ms. Heard’s claims to the contrary were basically a ‘hoax’.”

Post Script: Amber Heard announced she secretly welcomed baby girl Oonagh Paige on April 8, 2021 via surrogacy, amidst rumors the father is Elon Musk.

Amber Heard and her daughter.