Depp v Heard: The jury’s burden | The Hill

Johnny Depp Amber Heard

AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool

Millions of dollars were at stake in the voyeuristic defamation case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. But if either of them believed this action was going to salvage their reputations and vindicate them, they were sadly mistaken. They were also mistaken if they believed this was going to be a cake walk for either of them. In the United States, successful defamation suits commenced by celebrities are difficult to win — ask Sarah Palin.

A legal action for defamation claims injury to one’s reputation. Defamation must be more than hyperbole, parody or name-calling; it must go to the heart of a person’s reputation in the community. Libel and slander are two forms of defamation. Libel is the written form of defamation and slander is the oral form.

Depp complained that there are three lines in the Washington Post op-ed penned by Heard that are libelous, even though they do not mention him by name. The first is the title of the piece: “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” The second is: “Then two…Read More


Lynn Greenky is an Associate Teaching Professor at Syracuse University in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies. She teaches a beloved undergraduate course about the First Amendment. She is the author of When Freedom Speaks: The Boundaries and Boundlessness of the First Amendment. You can follow her on Instagram @LynnGreenky.

Leave a Comment