Many experts are currently testifying for the actress in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's defamation trial. A witness who accuses the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star of "narcissistic traits" and calls an "idiot" is not well received by observers.
Three experts -- a hand surgeon, a psychiatrist and a producer -- took the stand Monday in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the ongoing libel trial in which Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard have accused each other of domestic violence to testify against the Pirates of the Caribbean star. However, the psychiatrist did not make himself particularly popular during his questioning.
Referring to video testimonies and other court materials from Depp, David Spiegel said the 58-year-old actor has cognitive problems that someone his age shouldn't have. According to the psychiatrist, his alcohol and drug use significantly damaged his memory. Depp's ex-therapist asked him to remember three words and repeat them five minutes later. "Mr Depp couldn't remember any of that," which the expert said was very unusual. "In general, this age group should remember two or all three of these words." He also certified Depp "narcissistic traits".
Drug abuse is also a triggering cause of domestic violence, Spiegel said. The prescription drugs Depp is said to have taken, including Adderall for ADHD and the neuroleptic Seroquel, should also not be combined with other drugs like cocaine or MDMA, Spiegel warned. Depp's excessive consumption is also affecting his ability as an actor, according to Spiegel. He knows that Depp made a film "completely drunk" and uses an earphone so as not to forget his lines. He also believes that Depp's "thinking rate" has dropped and that his attention and memory have been impaired.
In the subsequent cross-examination, the psychiatrist was unusually argumentative for an expert, so that even Judge Penney Azcarate had to admonish him several times to answer Depp's legal team. He made faces, seemed annoyed, and interrupted defense attorney Wayne Dennison so many times that questions had to be repeated multiple times. When asked if he knew that Hollywood star Marlon Brando, who died in 2004, also used earphones during filming, Spiegel replied mockingly: "Isn't he dead? Then the answer is no, he's not using one now." Johnny Depp then hid his face behind his hand in disbelief. Spiegel also had to justify a statement in which he called Depp an "idiot".
It was just as heated when Depp's lawyer came to speak of the Goldwater Rule of the "American Psychiatric Association". This states that psychiatrists may not make professional assessments of public figures whom they have not personally examined. Heard's team had twice requested a medical examination of Depp by Spiegel, but the requests were denied. Spiegel replied that he was not giving a "chair diagnosis". "If you want the jury to think that witnesses are unethical, I guess that's for them to decide," he added angrily.
But not only Johnny Depp was visibly amazed at the appearance of the expert during the cross-examination. A trial observer tweeted live from the courtroom: "The jurors do not like this statement. At least three to four of them make negative facial expressions directly to Amber Heard's witness while juror number eight smiles at Johnny Depp's attorney during cross-examination."
Also on the witness stand, hand surgeon Richard Moore testified that he found medical reports and testimony about Depp's severed fingertip inconsistent with the injury the actor allegedly sustained during an argument with Heard. Depp accused his ex-wife of throwing a vodka bottle at him while he was sitting at a bar in Australia in 2015. The bottle broke and hit his hand, which was over the edge of the counter. However, clinical records do not agree with Depp's claim because it was a crush injury, Moore said.
Referring to several photographs and x-rays of the injuries shown to the jury, he stated that the fingernail was not hit and the tissue loss was only on the underside of the finger. The medical staff did not document any broken glass or other injuries to Depp's hand, Moore continued to argue. During cross-examination, the US doctor also admitted that he had not examined Depp himself or performed an operation. Neither can he identify the object that Depp's finger is said to have hit or completely rule out that the injury was caused by a vodka bottle.
Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard over a 2018 Washington Post comment in which the actress described herself as a victim of domestic violence. Though she doesn't explicitly mention Depp's name, he claims the article had a negative impact on his career and cost him his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. However, entertainment consultant and producer Kathryn Arnold has testified that Depp's once "extraordinary" career had previously gone downhill due to a number of "flops".
Heard's comment had no impact on Depp's role as the film hadn't even been shot yet. According to Arnold, Disney executives were also unaware of the comment until Depp filed a lawsuit against it. She added that Depp's character, Jack Sparrow, had been "creatively exhausted." There were also concerns about his behavior. "It was difficult for the industry to work with him," she said. "We talked about the erratic behavior, the delays, the drug and alcohol abuse." Several lawsuits against the Hollywood star would have had "really big effects" on his career. "It's difficult for a movie studio, especially a family-focused studio like Disney, to be associated with a star who writes news about burned bodies and has violent behavior in videos."
Instead, it's Heard's career that's suffering the most, Arnold said. The 36-year-old has built a solid reputation and her career was on the rise with "Aquaman" until Depp's attorney Adam Waldman's alleged smear campaign and related lawsuits began. It was difficult for the filmmakers to be associated with her, with Heard only appearing at the beginning and briefly at the end of the Aquaman sequel.
Disney employee Tina Newman also testified Thursday that in talks with Disney officials, no one had committed to hiring Depp for the sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film. When asked if Depp would be in a possible sixth installment, Newman said the decision was "above my pay grade." However, she also acknowledged that the film project is currently in development at Disney. Talent agent Christian Carino, who worked with Depp and Heard, previously confirmed that Depp was dropped from the franchise over Heard's allegations. Those responsible at Disney had never said this explicitly, but it was "meant".
Closing arguments in the defamation trial are expected on May 27. Until then, many more witnesses will testify for Heard, but Depp will also receive support again. Kate Moss, with whom he dated from 1994 to 1997, is said to be testifying for the actor. During the trial, Heard reported an incident in which Depp Moss is said to have pushed down a flight of stairs. This allows Depp's lawyers to call the model as a witness. Jennifer Howell, a former friend of Heard's sister Whitney, is also said to be questioning Depp in court about an argument on a staircase in which Depp allegedly hit his ex-wife and sister-in-law. Howell claims the sisters lied in court.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard met on the set of The Rum Diary in 2009. They celebrated their wedding in early February 2015, and Heard filed for divorce at the end of May 2016, which was finalized in early 2017. After Depp's lost defamation lawsuit in Great Britain in 2021 against the newspaper "The Sun", which had described him as a "wife beater", the US trial started in April.