Legal experts say Johnny Depp’s lawyers were given a gift when his bombshell defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard went on hiatus this week.
But some also noted the break could give the Heard’s side a boost, as jurors are left with several days to chew on her harrowing testimony.
Without an immediate cross-examination to challenger her credibility, Heard’s story is left “marinating in their minds, and maybe solidifying that … this is what really happened and this is the truth,” New York based family law and divorce attorney Sandra Radna said Monday.
“Maybe no matter what Johnny Depp’s team does afterwards, it can’t change them,” Radna said about the jurors, “because now they’ve they’ve sat with that for a week.”
Expert trial consultant Jill Huntley Taylor, however, said the gap will give Depp’s attorneys “plenty of time” to pour over Heard’s testimony and “really meticulously plan their cross-examination of her.”
“I do think there is a real strategic advantage” to that, Huntley Taylor told The Post.
The trial was paused on May 5, after Heard’s second day on the stand, when she described some of the extreme abuse she allegedly suffered at Depp’s hands.
Her testimony will resume May 16, when Judge Penney Azcarate returns from a pre-scheduled conference.
In the meantime, Depp’s attorneys will be able to spend the week “finding things to ask that would discredit her testimony,” California entertainment lawyer Mitra Ahouraian said.
“Johnny’s team is going to be pivoting based on what they heard in her testimony,” Ahouraian told The Post.
A source close to Depp told The Post that his lawyers “definitely see it as an advantage to have a week and a half to prepare for cross-examination and analyze Ms. Heard’s direct examination testimony so far.”
Still, lawyer to the stars Jeffrey Movit of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp said that a legal team “generally wishes to present their full case without interruption rather than have it chopped up and divided and spread out over time.”
“While the jury has time to ruminate on Ms. Heard’s testimony they may forget portions of it,” Movit noted. “Moreover, her testimony will be significantly separated in time from that of the other witnesses in support of her case.”
Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star wasn’t named in the piece, but he says it nonetheless ruined his reputation, damaged his career and cost him tens of millions of dollars in work.
Heard’s lawyers aren’t allowed to consult with the actress this week since she’s still on the stand, something Huntley Taylor, the trial consultant, described as a “challenge for them and for her.”
The jury, which is not sequestered, is also at risk at hearing about this case in their week off given how much attention it’s received, the experts warned.
Bottom line, Radna said, “you never know what’s going through jurors’ heads.”
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner.