Break in trial hands Amber Heard edge over Johnny Depp, experts say

Amber Heard’s gripping testimony during the trial for a defamation lawsuit brought by ex-husband Johnny Depp was made all the more compelling by a random gift – from the courtroom calendar.

Heard’s words, chronicling brutal abuse she claims to have endured from Depp, will ring unchallenged in jurors’ minds for a week and a half, handing Heard’s defense an edge that could play a role at deliberation, legal experts told NBC News on Friday.

“That’s the kind of thing lawyers worry about all the time and sometimes you get bad luck,” NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said. ‚ÄúThis is a significant break and people are going to marinate in it [Heard’s testimony]. “

A Fairfax, Virginia jury heard two days of Heard’s riveting account of her tumultuous relationship with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star before court was adjourned Thursday evening.

The trial will not resume until May 16 as Circuit Court Judge Penney Azcarate is set to attend a conference she’d previously scheduled.

“What we hear last really does stick with us,” Los Angeles jury consultant Richard Gabriel said. “Instead of moving on to something else,” like another witness, “and focusing on that,” jurors will sit for more than a week with Heard’s testimony. “That’s a real thing,” Gabriel added.

Trial attorneys keep a close eye on the calendar, and winning the battle for the last word before an afternoon coffee break, weekend adjournment or week-long gap can matter.

“It’s not a wash, it does favor her,” Gabriel added. “The timing of trials is very important – when you introduce things, who gets to go last. Who speaks before a weekend. All that stuff matters.”

With the burden of proof – albeit a lesser civil standard of preponderance – falling on Depp to prove Heard lied about him, any points she scores with jurors are potentially more valuable.

“I’ve seen this in divorce cases and judges who have handled divorce cases would tell you it’s possible [for jurors] to not believe either side, ‘a pox on both your houses,’ “Cevallos said.” It’s possible neither of them are credible and if that’s the case, then Johnny Depp hasn’t met his burden. ”

Before Heard took the witness stand on Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard Depp’s four days of testimony and his allegations that she was the aggressor in their relationship.

Depending on how she holds up in cross-examination, Heard may have already dealt key blows against the plaintiff’s case.

“Her testimony was quite compelling. Even if you’re not a fan of Amber Heard and you’re biased towards Johnny Depp, she has presented some fairly detailed, emotional, strong testimony,” Southern California civil attorney Ryan Baker said.

“It’s hard to imagine that testimony will not be bouncing around the heads of jurors” during the break in the trial “at the expense of the prior evidence,” Baker said.


Diana Dasrath contributed.

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