Thursday was the day after the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard verdict. The call was for a free legal clinic in Athens, Georgia, for domestic violence victims. Although the woman was eager to file her abuse claims, she was also worried.
Christine Scartz, clinic director, said that the fear was that the woman would be mistaken for Amber Heard. She also stated that the woman was the first to mention the verdict. People don't want to reveal their most intimate details, and then be called lying.
Scartz is one of the advocates and legal experts that fear the case, which was unique for its celebrity line-up, sordid revelations and mutual claims of abuse, will have a chilling effect on women who come forward with abuse claims. Five men and two women dominated the jury that sided with Depp in the defamation case. Heard was ordered to pay him $10 million, plus the $2 million he had to give to Scartz.
Even though jurors were only considering civil libel cases and not criminal abuse, the verdict mostly vindicated Depp’s claims that Heard had lied about her abuse. Heard testified to dozens of incidents of assault and Depp denied that he ever abused her. A U.K. judge found that Depp had assaulted Heard at least 12 times in a civil litigation case.
Scartz directs the University of Georgia's clinic. Her concern is over the assumption that some women will lie. In retaliation, she fears that abusers might be able to make their accusers look like liars.
Experts do not fear a chilling effect, or as some have said, a threat the #MeToo movement. Debra Katz, a Washington employment lawyer and possibly the most prominent #MeToo attorney in the country, stated that the Depp case was unique and "a thing of its own - who these people were and the dysfunction between them and the crazy that occurred between them." This was really driven by celebrities."
Katz, who represented the accusers of Brett Kavanaugh and Andrew Cuomo, still considers the case a setback because it "unfortunately taps into the misogyny already existing, and it's terrible Amber Heard was subjected to the type of character assassination and the smear campaign that she was put though."
Users of Twitter and TikTok mocked Heard during the trial in videos and memes, some even using court footage. Social media posts slammed Heard as a liar and an abuser. #AmberIsALiar was a popular hashtag.
TikTok has tallied nearly 20 billion views for the hashtag #JusticeForJohnnyDepp, compared with some 78 million for #JusticeForAmberHeard. This is more than 250 posts supporting Depp per one supporting Heard.
Katz stated that it is clear that there is still misogyny and deep misogyny around the world and it pervades our justice systems. However, she added that one should not assume women will not come forward in other cases.
She said that a court decision on Thursday, one day after the Depp verdict, was a better indicator of the movement's endurance: Harvey Weinstein's losing his appeal against his New York rape conviction and 23-year sentence. She said that jurors in that case "saw through every single sexist argument Harvey Weinstein's lawyers made regarding these women." This is a far more important jury verdict and court win than what this Depp-Heard thing suggests.