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Johnny Depp’s defamation suit against ex-wife Amber Heard begins

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By Newsvot News - - 5 Mins Read

Elon Musk and James Franco may testify in Johnny Depp's $50 million defamation suit against ex-wife Amber Heard.

In their libel trial, which starts on Tuesday, actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard square off once more. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, and actor James Franco are among those expected to speak.

On Monday, the latest chapter in Johnny Depp's legal struggle with ex-wife Amber Heard began with the start of a defamation trial in the United States over charges Amber made regarding domestic abuse.

In a long-awaited libel lawsuit launched by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, who he claims of unfairly portraying him as a domestic abuser, jury selection began Monday.

The trial comes less than two years after Johnny lost a libel battle against The Sun, a British tabloid, for calling him a "wife beater," after a London High Court judge determined that he had repeatedly abused Heard and left her in dread of her life.

Depp sued Heard for an op-ed piece she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she refers to herself as a "public figure representing domestic abuse." 

The article doesn't mention Depp by name, but Depp claims it clearly refers to allegations Heard made in other forums that she was physically abused by him, which she denies.

Although the actor was not mentioned by name in the op-ed, Johnny's lawyers argue it was evident that Amber was referring to him. According to them, the essay harmed his cinematic career and reputation.

The actor was fired from the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, where he had a leading role when claims of domestic abuse surfaced. Johnny had appeared in the first two installments of the five-film series, but for the third installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, he was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen.

Both parties have provided extensive lists of potential witnesses to testify. Elon Musk, Amber's ex-boyfriend and Tesla CEO, is on her list, and she texted him about Johnny. Actor James Franco, who Amber testified in the London court about bruising on her face after an alleged abusive episode with Johnny, is also on the list of potential witnesses.

The lawsuit brought a touch of Hollywood to a courthouse that has a lengthy history of dealing with high-profile crimes, but none involving movie stars.

More than a dozen ladies waited outside the courthouse an hour before the hearing, some brandishing banners that read "Justice for Johnny," while others waved pirate flags in honor of Depp's signature role in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

On Monday, the public courthouse in Fairfax was shuttered, with limited closed-circuit access in an overflow courtroom. Before 7 a.m., people had formed a line. for the wristbands that authorize entry.

Penney Azcarate, the judge presiding over the case, has established a variety of access restrictions in order to keep the courtroom in order. Most importantly, neither Depp nor Heard are allowed to pose for photos or sign autographs inside or on the grounds of the courthouse.

Depp's supporters have spoken out in defense of him, claiming that he has been wrongly accused. Depp enthusiast Raylyn Otie, from Bluefield, Virginia, drove five hours to see the actor. She was disappointed that Depp did not personally greet fans, despite the fact that sheriff's deputies had strictly restricted fan access.

"I'm quite dissatisfied. With a bouquet in hand, she replied, "I came to give him flowers to express some support."

A judge dismissed a separate lawsuit filed by Depp against a British newspaper, ruling that Depp abused Heard on a dozen occasions and left her in fear for her life on several instances.

Heard has launched a countersuit against Depp, alleging that his lawyers defamed her at his request.

The matter was unsuccessfully shifted to California, where the actors live, by Heard's lawyers. Because the Post's online editions are published through servers in Fairfax County, a Fairfax judge concluded that Depp was within his rights to pursue the case here. 

According to Depp's lawyers, the action was brought in Virginia partly because the statutes are more favorable to their case.

In 2011, the two actors met on the set of The Rum Diary and married four years later. After filing for divorce in 2016, Amber accused Johnny of domestic abuse. In 2017, their divorce was finalized.

The trial will last for at least a month.