Greetings, I’m Danny Karon, Your Lovable Lawyer, here with your quick shot of legal wellness. Well, if you thought Johnny Depp was in for a huge “Payday,” his trial victory could end up in “Reese’s Pieces.” Depp and Heard’s “Whopper” of a jury trial might be over but they have a long road ahead considering that Heard has pledged to appeal, a process that will take years for sure and easily cost each side “100 Grand” or more.
Let’s break things down. Many legal experts doubted Depp would even win at trial. After all, he lost a similar libel case in the UK when the Sun, a British tabloid, wrote that he was a wife beater. But you see, a judge decided that case and a jury decided this one. What’s more, the UK trial wasn’t televised. We all know that this one was. The jury simply found Depp’s story more credible than Heard’s. But you see, appellate courts tend not to reconsider a jury’s judgment about credibility, so instead of arguing that the jury got the facts wrong, Heard will argue that the judge got the law wrong. You see, that’s how appeals work. She will most likely argue that the jurors were improperly influenced by things they saw and heard outside of the courtroom. After all, you know they weren’t sequestered so they had access to their phones and their computers and they saw inadmissible videos and memes which were overwhelmingly pro-Depp. They were funny and they were goofy they were pro-Depp. They were all over YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter. You probably saw them too. I know I did. But of course, the idea of sequestering juries isn’t practical. You cannot keep people from their phones and their computers, much less for six weeks, which is how long this jury trial lasted. So, the whole trial by social media thing isn’t a half bad argument. Now whether it’ll work, who knows. We’ll have to wait and see.
Okay, we’re on appeal. That’s where we find out. And that means that instead of a jury, like a trial, a three-judge appellate panel will decide Heard’s case by sifting through the lawyer’s written submissions. Those are things called briefs and believe me, they’re hardly brief. The appellate judges will also go through the trial record which includes testimony and documents, lots and lots of stuff. Now, whoever loses could appeal the loss to the Virginia Supreme Court, which has discretion to take the case or not, and the loser at that level could then petition to the U.S. Supreme Court who also has the discretion to take the case or not.
So now you can see why, an order affirming Depp’s jury verdict isn’t exactly a sure thing. And that’s why the winner at trial often settles on appeal, meaning they agree to take less than the jury awarded, the verdict, in exchange for the loser dismissing their appeal. This gives both sides certainty and finality.
Now finally, get this, before any appeal, Heard might have to put up what’s called a bond that indicates that she has or can raise the money that she owes Depp in case she ends up losing on appeal. But she might not be able to afford one. That’s what we’re hearing and that means her appeal could hit a “Sour Patch” right out of the gate. So, like with any trial there’s always a “Now and Later.” Who will end up getting the “Bounty” and who will end up with “Zero?” It’s still anybody’s guess.
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