Get a breakdown of Depp's highly-publicized trial against ex-wife Heard, which is streaming on Court TV and Law&Crime.
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Johnny Depp's defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard over allegations of domestic abuse has begun in Fairfax, Virginia.

Depp filed a $50 million lawsuit against Heard over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed, which chronicled her experiences as a domestic violence survivor. Though she never mentioned Depp by name, the actor's lawyers have maintained that Heard's references to their client was clear, claiming that the op-ed has damaged Depp's career and reputation.

The two met on set of the 2011 drama The Rum Diary and married in 2015. Heard filed for divorce from Depp in 2016, filing a domestic violence restraining order against the actor and accusing him of physically and verbally abusing her during "violent and volatile" episodes while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Depp has denied all allegations.

Opening statements began on Tuesday following Monday's juror selection, with both actors' attorneys delivering statements on their behalf. The jury must decide if Heard acted with "actual malice" or "reckless disregard" for the truth when she penned the piece. They'll also review issues put forth in Heard's $100 million countersuit against Depp's defamation suit.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in 2015
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in 2015
| Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Below, a primer on the highly-publicized legal battle, including some famous witnesses and how to stream it online.

How long is the trial and why Virginia?

With both Depp's defamation lawsuit and Heard's countersuit, the trial could last for six weeks. While the two live in (and were married in) California, Depp's lawyers brought the case to Virginia because they believe it'll be a more favorable state than California, which has stronger legal protections for defendants such as Heard, per Reuters. The actress initially tried to transfer the case to Los Angeles, but was unsuccessful.

Who will be involved?

A number of familiar faces could be called to testify. Heard's witness list includes friends and former costars James Franco, Ellen Barkin, Jason Momoa, James Wan, and Elon Musk, all of whom Heard communicated with in regards to the alleged abuse. Emails between Depp and Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and musician Jack White are also included in the court dockets, making them witnesses. WandaVision star Paul Bettany is also on Depp's witness list due to controversial text exchanges with Depp about "burning," "drowning," and having sex with the "burnt corpse" of Heard. Heard and Depp are also expected to testify, but it's unclear when. (EW has reached out to Heard and Depp's legal representatives for clarity.)

Is this the same as the U.K. lawsuit?

No. In the U.K. case, Depp sued the British newspaper The Sun for libel over a 2018 article that described him as a "wife beater" in the context of Heard's abuse allegations. Both Depp and Heard testified in person during the three-week trial in London during the summer of 2020. Depp lost the libel case in November of that year after a judge ruled that the article proved to be "substantially true" and "the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms. Heard by Mr. Depp have been proved to the civil standard." Depp tried to overturn the ruling, but was unsuccessful. Citing the U.K. decision, Heard initially sought a dismissal of the Virginia case, but a judge granted Depp the right to pursue his defamation lawsuit in the U.S.

Where can you stream the trial?

Depp and Heard's trial in Virginia is available to stream on Court TV and Law&Crime Network.

"Court cases that are as high-profile as this one often create a lot of noise, and it can be difficult for viewers to break through these distractions to have a clear picture of the facts, but that's where we come in," Ethan Nelson, acting head of Court TV, said in a statement. "Between the camera feed directly from the courtroom and our first-class lineup of talent, Court TV will be the true source of an unbiased, down-the-middle perspective of the trial as it unfolds."

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