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Amber Heard said she has decided to settle Johnny Depp's case against her

Actress Amber Heard departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on June 1 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Win McNamee
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Getty Images
Actress Amber Heard departs the Fairfax County Courthouse on June 1 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Updated December 19, 2022 at 3:47 PM ET

Amber Heard said that she plans to settle the defamation case brought against her by her ex-husband Johnny Depp. Heard recently had filed an appeal after a Virginia jury mostly sided with Depp in June in the widely-watched case.

"I make this decision having lost faith in the American legal system, where my unprotected testimony served as entertainment and social media fodder," Heard said in an Instagram post on Monday morning.

In June, the jury awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages (though a cap on punitive damages in Virginia meant that the actual amount was $10.35 million). It also awarded Heard $2 million in a countersuit against Depp.

In a statement, Depp's attorneys Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez said the settlement involved a $1 million payment to the actor.

"We are pleased to formally close the door on this painful chapter for Mr. Depp, who made clear throughout this process that his priority was about bringing the truth to light," Chew and Vasquez said in a statement sent to NPR. "The jury's unanimous decision and the resulting judgement in Mr. Depp's favor against Ms. Heard remain fully in place. The payment of $1M - which Mr. Depp is pledging and will donate to charities - reinforces Ms. Heard's acknowledgement of the conclusion of the legal system's rigorous pursuit for justice. "

Heard's legal and management team didn't immediately return NPR's requests for comment.

Heard says the U.S. justice system failed her

Actor Johnny Depp testifies in the courtroom in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va.
Evelyn Hockstein / AP
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AP
Actor Johnny Depp testifies in the courtroom in the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va.

Heard wrote Monday on Instagram that by settling she can finally "emancipate" herself from the situation "on terms I can agree to." She said that of those conditions, she "made no admission. This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice going forward."

Heard also criticized the U.S. justice system saying that in that court room "popularity and power mattered more than reason and due process."

In comparison, she said the courts in the U.K. protected Heard against Depp in another case.

"When I stood before a judge in the UK, I was vindicated by a robust, impartial and fair system, where I was protected from having to give the worst moments of my testimony in front of the world's media, and where the court found that I was subjected to domestic and sexual violence," she wrote.

Heard is referencing to the decision from a British court in 2020 in a non-criminal case that ruled against Depp's claims that the tabloid, The Sun, committed libel for calling the actor a "wife beater." The judge found that what The Sun's published was substantially true and that 12 of Heard's 14 allegations about episodes of physical assault were supportable.

This summer's defamation case in the U.S. that played out for weeks in Fairfax, Va. centered around an op-ed from Heard in The Washington Post, which Depp said was false and defamatory.

Heard's 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post was titled: "I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture's wrath. That has to change." She didn't name her ex-husband specifically in the op-ed, in which Heard called for change in how the U.S. treats abuse survivors and urged support for the Violence Against Women Act.

Depp claimed in his 2019 court complaints, "the op-ed plainly was about ... Ms. Heard's purported victimization after she publicly accused her former husband, Johnny Depp, of domestic abuse in 2016, when she appeared in court with an apparently battered face and obtained a temporary restraining order against Mr. Depp."

The defamation case, which was livestreamed, ultimately became a vehicle for the debate over who the public found more believable. It also played out on social media.
/ AP
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AP
The defamation case, which was livestreamed, ultimately became a vehicle for the debate over who the public found more believable. It also played out on social media.

Heard and Depp married in February 2015. A little more than a year later, Heard filed for divorce in May 2016. When the two settled their divorce in 2017, the agreement reportedly included a stipulation in which they agreed not to discuss their relationship in public.

The defamation case ultimately became a vehicle for debate over who the public found more believable: Depp or Heard. The trial, which was livestreamed, played out on social media, with users breaking down the sometimes shocking details of the case which also put the virulent relationship between the two Hollywood stars on full display.

Heard wrote in her Instagram post Monday, "I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.