The third week of Johnny Depp‘s injury case mod Amber Heard started with Depp still on the stand. Monday morning, the actor completed a cross-examination under his ex-wife’s lawyer and then testified when his own lawyer took over for the diversion investigation.
Throughout his testimony Monday, Depp was more controversial than he has previously been in the stands. During the first half hour of the cross-examination, Heard’s lawyer said Ben Rottenborn, continued the pace of cutting off Depp as he tried to elaborate and the actor appeared to be frustrated. “As long as you’re happy, sir,” Depp replied in a particularly controversial moment early.
Rottenborn kept the course with what he began last Thursday as he tried to reveal Depp’s credibility. The initial interrogation line was about a collection of audio and text messages, which were played and read aloud in court. In one recording, he appeared not to deny that he extinguished cigarettes on Heard and then shouted, “Shut up, fat-ass.” Elsewhere, in a text message to his agent Christian Carino, he wrote: “She will hit the wall hard !!!!… I can only hope that karma sets in and takes her breath away.”
There have been many points so far in the trial that have shown that Heard’s desire for Depp to be sober was a point of contention for them, and on Monday Rottenborn claimed that Heard was not the only person in Depp’s life who wanted him to stop drinking. He brought Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, into it. “You were trying to hide your drinking from your daughter, Lily-Rose?”
Depp’s lawyer protested, but Rottenborn was eventually allowed to read a text from Depp Kevin Murphy, his property manager: “Now Lily-Rose hates me because she thinks I’m drinking and she’s right.” In another audio clip, Depp appears to tell Heard, who cried, “I will never be clean and sober.” (Depp added that he could have said, “I’ve never been clean and sober.”)
Depp’s team often protested during the cross-examination. His advice seemed to raise every other question or two, but Rottenborn was still able, by the end, to pepper quick shots at Depp. Often his questions felt rhetorical, if not in practice, then intentional. The lawyer flooded the courtroom with headlines, including a couple from this magazine, suggesting that Depp’s career problems began before the play at the heart of the trial, Washington Post op-ed Heard released in 2018, who said she had survived domestic violence. (Depp will have to prove injuries, meaning he lost his job during the op-ed; the op-ed never mentions Depp by name). While Rottenborn read the headlines, Depp’s answers would vary: “This is a pathetic attempt” and “hit pieces” and “You should read the article.” (The latter garnered some laughter from the gallery).
When he finished, Rottenborn asked if Depp could name an actor who has “benefited from her career by standing up and declaring that she was a victim of domestic violence,” which again felt like a point that would raise objections – just as speculative as it was. Verily, Judge Penney Azcarate maintained the objection.
Towards the end of his cross-examination, Rottenborn asked Depp to confirm that he was suing Heard, who wrote the article, and not That Washington Post, who published the article. It seemed to be part of a strategy to establish that the case is a means of revenge rather than solely of slander.
Depp said of the trial: “It was the only time I was able to speak and use my own voice.” As the trial enters its third full week, this still feels like the core of it – Depp has been able to talk with limited pushback and get it broadcast live on Court TV for two extended periods at this point.