What the Depp trial means for the #MeToo allegations broadcast by media companies

Mr. Depp’s argument was that the case had nothing to do with the broad protections for the word of the First Amendment. Instead, he insisted, it was about the credibility of the accuser. “The First Amendment does not protect the lies that hurt and defame people,” Mr. Depp’s attorney said the jury at the end of the trial.

Several lawyers said they were surprised by the outcome, especially since Mr Depp lost a similar case in Britain, which has much lower legal standards for public figures suing for defamation. A key difference, said George Freeman, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center and former New York Times attorney, is that a judge ruled the matter in Britain while a jury sided with Mr. Depp in the United States.

“A jury decides what a jury decides, and often there is no further explanation,” said Mr. Freeman.

The result was all the more curious, Mr. Freeman added, because the jury also sided with Ms. Heard on a tally in which she claimed that Mr. Depp’s attorney had defamed her by blaming her for damaging the penthouse. of the couple.

“When one part is false, then the other is true,” said Mr. Freeman. “It seems a bit inconsistent to award prizes to both of us.”

An implication of the split jury decision is that the law, due to its complexity, may not do what people expect it to do: be an arbiter for the kind of disputes it has said / said that arise from allegations such as sexual assaults.

In other similar cases for defamation, the publisher also took part in the lawsuit. First Amendment pundits, concerned about the use of defamation lawsuits in an increasingly polarized climate, especially against news outlets, said the fact that The Post was not named as a party in Mr. Depp’s case likely facilitated his victory.

Had The Post been sued, the trial would likely have been more focused on ways defamation laws can be abused, said RonNell Andersen Jones, a law professor at the University of Utah.