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Celebrity court cases: Here’s the latest on Heard v. Depp and Bill Cosby

The verdict was handed down Wednesday in the Heard v. Depp trial as another Cosby trial begins

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Actor Johnny Depp watches the jury arrive in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., Monday, May 23, 2022. Depp sued his ex-wife Amber Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2018 referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Steve Helber/Pool, Associated Press

A panel of jurors reached an outcome in the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation case Wednesday afternoon in Fairfax, Virginia. Across the country, a courtroom in Santa Monica, California, heard opening statements in a civil case against Bill Cosby over sexual assault allegations.

Depp v. Heard verdict

  • Depp brought a civil suit against Heard for $50 million, claiming defamation in a Washington Post op-ed, and was countersued by his ex-wife for $100 million.
  • In 2020, Depp lost a similar libel lawsuit against The Sun, over “wife-beater” comments.
  • Here’s a summary of both legal teams’ closing arguments.
  • The jury released its verdict on Wednesday afternoon. NBC reports the jury sided with Depp, awarding him $15 million in damages.
  • The Associated Press reports that the jury also awarded $2 million in damages to Heard, deciding that one of Depp’s lawyers defamed her by claiming she created “a detailed hoax” for police.

Cosby case

  • Judy Huth brought charges against Cosby, alleging she was 16 when Cosby took her to the Playboy Mansion and sexually assaulted her, according to The Associated Press.
  • The Los Angeles Times reports the charges could not proceed in 2014 due to the statute of limitations, but California legislation passed in 2019 extending the time limit for some cases of childhood sexual assault.
  • According to The New York Times, Huth originally claimed the incident took place in 1974 when she was 15, but amended the timeline to 1975 after more archival research.

Why it matters

The trials of Cosby, his guilty verdict and his release have been of national interest as numerous stories of sexual assault in the entertainment industry have come to light. In the wake of these, Heard’s article and the ensuing lawsuit are seen by some as evidence of punishment when speaking against domestic violence.

Others view this trial as important to male victims of domestic abuse and are rarely mentioned in the conversation. The ensuing cultural impact these and other celebrity trials will have is significant, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.