Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit against Amber Heard kicks off in Virginia with jury selection

Jury selection began Monday in a long-awaited libel lawsuit Johnny Depp sued his ex-wifeactress Amber Heard, whom he accuses of misrepresenting him as a domestic abuser.

Depp sued Heard over an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post in 2018 in which Heard described herself as a “public figure representing domestic violence.” The article doesn’t mention Depp by name, but it does say it’s clearly referring to heard allegations made in other forums that she suffered physical violence from him. Depp denies the charges.

The trial brought a bit of Hollywood to a courthouse that has a long history of handling high-profile crimes, but not those involving movie stars.

More than a dozen women, some waving signs saying ‘Justice for Johnny’ or pirate flags in recognition of Depp’s signature role in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies, waited outside the courthouse an hour before the hearing.

The City of Fairfax courtroom was closed to the public on Monday, with limited closed-circuit access to an overflow courtroom. People lined up before 7am for wristbands allowing access.

Trial judge Penney Azcarate imposed a series of access rules to try to maintain decorum in the courthouse. More importantly, neither Depp nor Heard are allowed to pose for photos or sign autographs in the courthouse or on the courthouse grounds.

Depp’s fans expressed their support, saying he had been falsely accused. Raylyn Otie, a Depp fan from Bluefield, Va., drove five hours to see the movie star. She was disappointed when Depp did not greet fans personally, as sheriff’s deputies carefully limited fan access.

“I’m so disappointed. I came to give her flowers to show my support,” she said, bouquet in hand.

In a separate trial Depp filed a complaint against a British newspapera judge dismissed the case, finding that Depp assaulted Heard a dozen times and made him fear for his life on several occasions.

Heard has filed a countersuit against Depp who accuses her attorneys of defaming her on his orders.

Heard’s attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to have the case transferred to California, where the actors reside. A Fairfax judge ruled that Depp was within his rights to bring the case here because the Post’s online editions are published through servers located in Fairfax County. Depp’s attorneys said they took the case to Virginia in part because the laws here were more favorable to their case.

The trial is expected to last over a month.

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