Why is Johnny Depp Suing Ex-Wife Amber Heard in Virginia Where Neither of Them Live or Work?

Why Johnny Depp Filed Suit in Virginia

In addition to their divorce, the two actors are at each other’s throats in a defamation suit filed by Johnny Depp against Amber Heard. But Depp filed the suit in Virginia, where neither of the actors live or work. In the lawsuit, Depp is named as “John C. Depp, II.”

In the defamation suit Depp vehemently denied claims that he was violent towards her during their marriage, and instead alleges that Heard’s purported injuries were staged. Depp also accuses Heard of committing innumerable acts of domestic violence against him, often in the presence of third party witnesses, which in some instances caused me serious bodily injury. The suit also alleges that Heard was violent toward several former female lovers, including an ex-wife.

Image Source: people.com

Last week a Virginia state judge ruled that Depp will be allowed to move forward in Virginia in his $50 million defamation case over a December op-ed in The Washington Post centering on her discussion of domestic abuse. The printing presses of The Washington Post are located in Virginia.

Heard didn’t mention Depp by name in the op-ed, but he argues it was pretty obvious she meant Depp when she wrote, “Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk

Virginia is one of just ten states that adhere to what’s known as the lex loci delicti rule, which is Latin for place of the wrong where the tort was committed. That’s defined as where the publication occurs. However, the Washington Post isn’t just printed in Virginia, it’s also published on the internet. The newspaper’s servers are also located in Virginia.

Why Didn’t Depp File His Defamation Suit in California?

California has a strong anti-SLAPP statute. Anti-SLAPP laws are intended to prevent people from using lawsuits, such as defamation suits, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Under California’s, and most, anti-SLAPP laws, the person sued for defamation can make a motion to strike the suit because it involves protected speech. For example, Amber Heard would argue that her op-ed about domestic violence is about a matter of public concern that merits First Amendment protection. The plaintiff (Johnny Depp) then has the burden of showing a probability that he will prevail in the suit. If the plaintiff cannot meet this burden, the defamation suit can be dismissed.

Under California’s anti-SLAPP law, if Depp lost an anti-SLAPP motion to strike, he would also have to pay Heard’s legal fees. Losing an anti-SLAPP motion to strike also usually signals a death-knell for a defamation suit, which is likely a bigger problem for Depp because his Hollywood career depends on not being viewed as a domestic abuser / wife beater.

Who do you believe – Depp or Heard?

16 comments on “Why is Johnny Depp Suing Ex-Wife Amber Heard in Virginia Where Neither of Them Live or Work?

  1. Avatar for calegalwriter
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    beverly on

    Heard is the true victim. Depp is a crook and an abuser. i saw all the articles written up and how they unplayed her being the perpetrator and him the victim. the whole thing is biased and political.

    If Heard’s lawyer can’t help her, then she needs to get a stronger lawyer.

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  3. Avatar for calegalwriter
    Rlc on

    I have a very hard time with this. Firstly, if I was the judge I’d tell them both to vacat my court room and get to therapy. 3 months single each and 3 months couples. Meet back here in 6 months I’ll grant your divorce. Familiarity breeds contempt. I don’t think mr. Depp is a violent person and I do see some very impolite behaviour from Ms. Heard. How did Johnny get that burn on his face? Now, here’s my bottom line. Johnny isn’t just an older husband. Johnny is old enough to be ambers father. Making him an elder. He had a moral ethical patriarchal obligation to correct his marriage. The second Amber displayed hostility toward johnny he should have walked out returning the next day with a team of therapists and banging out whatever issues he and his wife had until it was done. That to me is the bottom line. I do get he was smitten in love adoring and I’m sure didn’t want to do anything but love her and be loved. I do not think either party intended to hurt the other. They both seem like sweet kids and things just got away from them. I think they desperately need counseling.

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    Meike Marxen on

    After following the trial in London I am more than convinced, that Johnny Depp has a case against Amber Heard. Her evidence and credibiliy are weak. In my opinion Johnny Depp´s lawyers had the much better arguments and evidence. And his US lawyers will have even more for VA. If justice is justice, I see no way he will lose the trials.

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    Rosalind Mary Grover on

    I believe Johnny Depp to be innocent. He is spending a lot of money on proving his truth .. which is saying he is determined to win and clear his good name. Many of his friends and former partners have come forward to stand up and express their thoughts and love, and of Johnny’s non participation in violent behaviour in past relationships . This speaks volumes of our beloved popular actor’ good nature and his heart of gold.

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  8. Avatar for calegalwriter
    John Keisker on

    Of the two, Heard is the one who has been cited and arrested for domestic abuse in the past. Heard is the only one to be recorded saying she hit Depp. Even in their private recordings Depp never said he hit Heard, in fact he denied it and said that she was the aggressor. There are far more witnesses to Heard abusing Depp. The only people to say they witnessed Depp be abusive are Heard and her sister. Her friends say they saw bruises after the fact. Depp has many witnesses, including LE that say they witnessed no violence or marks on Heard after some of the attacks were alleged to have occurred.
    Heard did NOT donate the 7 million she got from Depp to charity and she is fighting efforts to subpoena those donation records.
    Heard mocks Depp on audio when he says he will go public with her abuse, saying that no one will believe him because women don’t abuse and he is a man. Well she was right on that part at least as one old man in a wig in England with ties to the paper that printed this slander did indeed believe her.
    Heard is the abuser. She gamed the system in the time of MeToo and won. Let’s hope he has better luck in America. I doubt it though.

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  9. Avatar for calegalwriter
    Lorna on

    I don’t know who I believe, but Depp has a long history of being arrested or sued for violence, multiple witnesses to him attacking her and it was proven in court that her photos of bruises h minutes after he left her (so could not be done with makeup like he said). So people need to stop painting him as a saint

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    Dreama on

    Living in Virginia myself, I wish Depp luck. Virginia is known for siding with women; just sayin. I am on his side. Men can be on the receiving end of abuse as well and I know women like Amber Heard, manipulating narcissists. Hope he has good attorneys. Good luck Johnny!! <3

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