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Lecture 10 Companion notes spr20222 (1)

Companion notes for Lecture 10
Note 1: Below are companion notes for lecture 10, which you are kindly expected to be
familiar with. Feel free to let me and my assistants (whose emails are below) know should
you notice any errors or inconsistencies.
Note 2: The glossary as well the specimen questions in this handout has been compiled by
Eralp Bey (eralpx@gmail.com) to give you an idea as to the type and format of questions you
may find in the exams. Please feel free to contact him should you have any queries.
Note 3: Please feel free to contact Ogulcan Bey (ogulcangntkn@gmail.com) or Furkan Bey
(furkanusak@hotmail.com) should you have any queries concerning their contributions in the
lectures and any other issues.
Note 4: Further detailed explanation on how to deal with legal terms and expression: As
mentioned in my previous companion notes and as I may have repeated in class, you are not
expected to memorize the dictionary meanings of legal terms (which I believe is useless and
a waste of time and energy). Examining the examples provided, which may be quoted from
the press, is much more useful and beneficial. My aim here, is to get you to ‘feel’ the concept
from different angles and perspectives and in different contexts so that you can both
recognize them as well as use them with command and mastery according to yo0ur intended
purposes in your writing and speech.
Overall summary: In lecture 10, we looked at the jury system, which is closely associated
with the trial procedure, which we examined in last week’s lecture (i.e. lecture 9).
“Trial by jury” or “jury trial” constitutes also one of the main differences between the civil law
and common law system. Trial by jury began within the common law system and continues
to be widely used as part of trial procedures in countries that follow the common law system.
There might be slight differences between these common law countries as to the type of
cases (i.e. whether criminal or civil cases) where juries are used. For instance, in the USA
juries are commonly used in both civil and criminal cases. Whereas in the UK, juries are not
used in civil cases but in criminal cases.
There may also be differences as to the number of jurors that will be empanelled (to be
enrolled on a jury).
Contents and outline of Lecture 10:
The lecture began by taking a brief look (see slides 4-6) at the ongoing Johnny Depp v
Amber Heard trial in the United States by referring to extracts and screenshots of news items
(Note: The small letter “v” is an abbreviation of versus. However, the term “and” is used to
pronounce it, rather than “v” or “versus”, e.g. the case “Smith v Jones” would be pronounced
“Smith and Jones”; source:
https://www.soas.ac.uk/library/subjects/law/research/file70250.pdf - this source is not
required reading)
Breakdown of content according to slides:
Slides 4-6: Johnny Depp trial: We looked at the latest developments in the ongoing legal
case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.
As we saw in last week’s lecture, the case is taking place in the US which follows the
common law system. Hence, as is the norm in those countries, which belong to the common
law family, the procedure for the trial is adversarial. Furthermore, as is common practice in
the US (unlike in the UK), the case is being tried by a jury even where the case involves a
civil dispute. In the UK, juries are not used in civil law cases but only in criminal law cases.
Slides 7-10: Screenshots of official websites in US states where announcements about jury
services are found on these slides. These screenshots contain important terms about juries
as well as clear answers to many common questions. It is important to remember however
that the information on these slides refer to the jury system in the United States. Please
familiarize yourself with the terms and information on these slides.
Slides 11-37: The extracts quoted on these slides contain relevant information about the
history of the jury system in England. These extracts are from an article in the Independent
newspaper that was published on 9 July 2018. I inserted additional explanatory slides where
you will find references to specific jury terminology and other sources (e.g. Magna Carta).
Please also carefully read related incidents in the article involving the experience of jury
members and celebrities.
Slides 38-39: A quoted legal joke on trial by jury with reference to the term “peer”.
A closer examination of the Depp v Heard trial:
I tried to break down the case and my explanations into small subsections in order to
highlight main legal issues and components involved. My explanations are supplemented by
references to current news items and short articles. Those articles or extracts which are
required reading for the final exam are indicated as such.
This case is very useful for our purposes since it is one that involves many important legal
terms and concepts that we should all be familiar with.
The case which has been dubbed as the “trial of the century” is a highly publicized and
sensational one that is being reported all over the world. At the time of writing these notes
the jury has retired (i.e. gone/withdrawn to the jury room for deliberations in private so as to
return a verdict).
It is most probable that we will have a verdict by the day of the exam final. I will, however,
attempt to provide an in-depth summary of the whole saga and of the most recent case and
provide my own feedback and expectations on the outcome of the case.
In order to make it easier to grasp the significance of the case and the legal issues involved, I
decided to break down the main issues in the case by subsections that I came up with as
listed below:
“Trial of the century”
Background to the case (i.e. What is the case about?)
Place of trial (i.e. Where is the ongoing trial taking place?)
Jury number
Projected outcome of trial and a guess as to the verdict
No guilty verdict at end of civil trial
Nicol J's judgment-correct, no appeal
Will same decision be given by jury
In turkey too many against president
What is srand called not dock
Debate about jury system
Why in uk not for civil
Defamation is civil not criminal; why
“Trial of the century” and attention in the media: The Depp case is frequently referred to
as the ‘trial of the century’ in the media. All media outlets are currently flooded with news of
the Depp trial. The screenshot on slide 4 of lecture 10 will take you to one of many such
articles – which you are NOT required to read for the exam.
Background to the case: Depp was married to Depp from 2015 to 2017. Soon after the
couple divorced, Heard wrote an article in the Washington Post in 2018 where she claimed
she was a victim of domestic violence and abuse. Heard did not mention Depp’s name in the
article. Four days after Heard’s article was published, Disney dropped Depp from his leading
role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the multibillion-dollar “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series.
The current trial in the US:
The current trial is taking place in Fairfax County in the State of Virginia in the United States.
Depp is suing Heard, 35, for defamation in Fairfax, Virginia, over a 2018 article she wrote for
the Washington Post about surviving domestic violence. In that article, Heard referred to
herself as a public figure representing domestic abuse. Depp denied all allegations of abuse
and accused Heard of making up false allegations. Depp’s lawyer accused Heard’s claims to
be a hoax (i.e. something that is meant to trick or deceive people). In response, Heard
countersued Depp for $100 million.
Please note the parts that are highlighted in yellow. To sue is a term that is used
when only a civil case is concerned. When it’s a criminal case, the term ‘sue’ is not
used. In criminal cases the term ‘prosecute’ is used.
Depp is suing Heard for $50 million. This sum is relevant in determining the number
of jurors in this case as explained further below.
Heard is countersuing for $100 million. Both figures i.e. in the initial lawsuit by Depp
as well Heard are for amounts that play a role in determining the number of jurors (in
the particular State in the US and the type of case as explained below).
‘Allegations of abuse’ amount to a ‘defamation/libel’ case in law. In other words, the
technical legal term when bringing such a case to court has to be either of these two
To defame is defined in the PDF Law Dictionary uploaded onto Moodle as follows: “to
say or write things about the character of someone so as to damage his or her
reputation” - see below for the distinction between libel and slander.
Libel is defined in the same dictionary as “1. a published or broadcast statement
which damages someone’s character _ She claimed that the newspaper report was a
libel. 2. The act of making a libel _ action for libel, libel action case in a law court
where someone says that another person has written a libel about him _ verb to
damage someone’s character in writing or in a broadcast (NOTE: libelling – libelled.
The US spelling is libeling – libeled.)” - see below for the distinction between libel and
Legal nature of the case: The case is generally referred to in the media as a ‘defamation’
case, which is not wrong. Legal websites and sources, however, refer to it as a ‘libel case’.
This is because in law, written defamation is called ‘libel’, while spoken defamation is called
‘slander’. Therefore, technically speaking and according to the correct legal terminology this
case is a libel case since it began as a result of an article that was written by Amber Heard
and published in the Washington Post newspaper in 2018.
In the UK and the US, a defamation case is a civil case and not a criminal case
(https://hamiltonfraser.co.uk/knowledge/when-is-defamation-a-crime/. In some countries,
including Turkey, defamation is a criminal offence and therefore will entail prosecution by the
A civil case as opposed to criminal case:
In this same article, one of the embedded links in red colour leads to other articles about the
case. One of these is reproduced on slide 6 as a screenshot. This particular article provides
important information about the nature of this case as well as the consequences involved for
the party that will lose the case (https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/people/amber-heardprison-johnny-depp-trial-result-jail-sentence-explained-1632393?ico=in-line_link). The
extracts below from the above article are REQUIRED READING FOR THE EXAM:
“Could Amber Heard go to prison? Why the Johnny Depp trial will not result in a jail sentence for
either party”
The trial has become one of the most talked-about celebrity stories in years, with hundreds of
thousands of people glued to live streams of courtroom proceedings every day
The explosive defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has entered its final week.
The trial has become one of the most talked-about celebrity stories in years, with hundreds of
thousands of people glued to live streams of courtroom proceedings every day.
Depp is suing Heard, his ex-wife, for $50m (£40m) over an article she wrote in The Washington
Post in 2018, in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.
Heard did not name Depp in the article, but he claims it has cost him acting roles.
She has counter-sued him for $100m, claiming Depp defamed her when his legal team referred to
her claims as “fake” and a “sexual violence hoax”.
The former couple, who were married from 2015 to 2017, both accuse the other of being
physically violent during the relationship. They each deny the other’s claims.
As the trial enters its final days here’s what we know about the possible outcomes.
Could Amber Heard go to prison?
No, Heard will not go to prison even if the jury decides in Depp’s favour.
This is a civil trial, not a criminal case. Neither Heard nor Depp are being tried on any criminal
A civil case is a court case in which a person or entity (the plaintiff) can find another person or
entity (the defendant) liable for some type of harm or wrongful act. When someone is sued, this is
a civil case.
If the plaintiff is successful, they will normally receive some form of compensation from the
A civil lawsuit can be brought over anything from a contract dispute or a residential eviction to
injuries sustained in a car accident, or countless other harms or disputes.
In this case, Depp is suing Heard for defamation – the act of damaging someone’s reputation.
Civil cases are intended to compensate the person who is harmed rather than punish the
defendant. If the defendant loses a civil case they are not convicted of a crime, as they would be in
a criminal case, and they do not face prison – even if they are found guilty of committing what
would be a criminal act.
The burden of proof is also lighter in a civil case than a criminal case. In a criminal case the
defendant’s guilt must be proven “beyond reasonable doubt”, whereas in a civil case the jury
simply has to decide which side of the dispute they believe to be more likely.
Civil cases can also be settled out of court. The plaintiff and defendant’s lawyers will often debate
and aim to come up with a sum that can be paid to defendant, ending the court case without a
need for it to reach its resolution.
Trial by jury:
The Depp case is being tried by a jury in the United States, which means that the jury will
make the ultimate decision as to who is telling the truth. The decision by the jury, as we have
seen, is called a verdict. The previous case between Depp and Heard which was held in the
UK did not involve a jury since jury trial is not used in civil cases the UK as opposed to the
US. In the UK, a jury trial is only applicable in criminal cases not civil cases.
Number of jurors:
The jury in the Depp case is composed of seven people in total. As we know, the case is
taking place in Fairfax County in the State of Virginia in the United States. We also, now
know, that libel cases are civil cases in the US. Thus, in order to find out why there were only
seven jurors, I conducted a search for the rules on jury composition in civil cases in Fairfax
County in Virginia (as the same rules differ across different states in the US). According to
the rules in Virginia State (https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/circuit/jury/jury-duty-faq - NOT required reading):
“If the amount claimed is $15,000 or less, the final jury will have five members. If it is
more than $15,000, the jury will have seven members.”
See last line on page 3 of the PDF titled “The answer book for jury service”
under subsection titled “How are jurors chosen to sit on a jury in a civil case?
(at https://www.vacourts.gov/courts/circuit/jury.pdf) – NOT required reading
Since Depp is suing Heard for $50 million for the claims Heard has made in her article in the
Washington Post and Heard is countersuing Depp for $100 million on the grounds that
Depp’s lawyer called her claims to be a hoax, the monetary limit laid down in the rules is met.
What type of verdict is required?
The jury on the Depp case must come to a unanimous decision for a verdict. Once again,
this requirement is determined in accordance with the rules in the State of Virginia as quoted
from the above cited PDF document below:
“Do we all have to agree? Yes. Every juror must agree on the verdict. This is known
as a unanimous verdict. If the jury cannot agree, then the judge must declare a
mistrial.” (at page 10 of the PDF document – NOT required reading)
The jury will be deciding Depp’s claim and Heard’s counterclaim at the same time because
they have been asked to make their minds up and give a verdict on the claims made by each
party in the case.
The previous case in the UK: What many sources do not refer to is that a case was held on
exactly the same grounds in the UK before where Depp lost his case for libel. As mentioned
above, there are no juries for civil cases in the UK. Civil cases are tried by a judge and not by
a jury.
Below are extracts in professional legal blogs that reported on the case in the UK at the time.
The information I selected from those articles contain valuable legal information, which will
provide you with a better insight on the legal background – these extracts are REQUIRED
Depp v Heard: the perils of life-streaming and trial by TikTok (11.05.22):
Depp is suing his former wife over allegations of domestic violence (note: this comment is in
reference to the ongoing case in the US). The case is a sequel of sorts: in 2020 Depp
unsuccessfully sued The Sun and one of its editors in London over similar allegations (note:
the newspaper published an article where it referred to Depp as a “wife beater”; Depp sued
the newspaper over this allegation; in that case in the UK, Heard appeared as a witness (i.e.
not as a defendant) on behalf of the newspaper and claimed that the statements made in the
article were true). Mr Justice Nicol (i.e. the judge who tried the case in the UK) found that the
allegations were substantially true. Depp’s Hollywood career has since been on hold. Given
Nicol J’s (i.e. the judge) reasoned finding (i.e. ruling/judgment that is backed up by detailed
reasoning and justified legal arguments; gerekçeli karar in Turkish) and the higher burden for
a libel claimant (i.e. a plaintiff, the one who brings the case to court) in the US, you could be
forgiven for thinking that armchair commentators would be cautious about predicting a Depp
victory mid-trial. However, if this is the case you are obviously not a TikTok user. Unlike the
English proceedings, the US trial is being live-streamed. There has been a social media
frenzy of TikTok and YouTube videos.” (https://www.brettwilson.co.uk/blog/depp-v-heard-theperils-of-life-streaming-and-trial-by-tiktok/ - you are NOT required to read the entire article on
High Court finds wife-beating allegations against Johnny Depp to be substantially
true. Should libel claimants be nervous? (10.11.20)
The recent libel judgment handed down in Depp II v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2020]
EWHC 2911 (QB) has made headlines around the world and has captured the attention of
the public. It has also been a devastating personal blow for Mr Depp. He was faced with a
libel claimant’s nightmare scenario: a Court finding that the defamatory allegations made
against him, in this case that he beat his then wife, Amber Heard, causing her significant
injury and to fear for her life, were true. That is not to mention the having to pay for not only
his own legal fees (i.e. fees that he has to pay to his own lawyers), but for those of The Sun
as well (a total figure estimated to be in the region of £5 million). Many have speculated the
judgment (i.e. not a verdict since in this case it is the judge who decides) will end Depp's
career in Hollywood. It was reported over the weekend that he has already quit the Fantastic
Beasts franchise, apparently at the request of Warner Brothers.
The lockdown (note: in reference to the pandemic) trial in July, dubbed ‘the trial of the
century’, captivated many as salacious allegations went back and forth between Mr Depp
and Ms Heard (pausing here, it's important to note that Ms Heard was a witness for The Sun
and not a defendant herself). Many of the shocking revelations would never have made the
light of day if Mr Depp had not sued The Sun and one of its editors for libel after it published
an article on 27 April 2018 entitled “GONE POTTY How Can J K Rowling be "genuinely
happy" casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?” (a version of the
article can be found here). Indeed, many people were unlikely to even know about the
allegations were it not for the suit (i.e. a case in civil law). In the wake of the ruling (and
during the hotly contested trial) many therefore asked themselves: why did Mr Depp sue?
Prospective defamation claimants, anxious to protect their own reputation, may have looked
at the messy Court proceedings with Mr Depp and asked themselves whether taking action
was worth that risk.” But do all claimants run the risk of the Johnny Depp scenario? The
short answer is no. The risks to a claimant come down to various factors, and each matter
will come with its own strengths and weaknesses. There are, however, some ways to tell at
a relatively early stage whether a defamation proceeding may do significantly more harm
than good. (https://www.brettwilson.co.uk/blog/high-court-finds-wife-beating-allegationsagainst-johnny-depp-to-be-substantially-true-should-libel-claimants-be-nervous/- you are
NOT required to read the entire article on this link BUT READ ONLY THE EXTRACT
Case comment: Depp v NGN – an analysis of the judgment (14 December 2020)
"As a claim for libel is brought in civil proceedings, the standard of proof that defendants (i.e.
in this case the British newspaper) are required to meet is the balance of probabilities i.e. is it
more probable than not that the article was substantially true in the meaning that it bore?. In
this case, the Defendants (the British newspaper) had to show that it was more likely than
not that the Claimant (i.e. Depp) did what the article alleged i.e. committed physical violence
against his wife, causing significant injury and for her to fear for her life.
In the common law, two standards of proof are recognised; the balance of probabilities and
beyond a reasonable doubt. The latter applies in criminal cases and although the balance of
probabilities is the single standard of proof in civil proceedings, the evidence required to
satisfy it varies according to the circumstances. Where the allegation is one of ‘serious
criminality’, the strength and quality of the evidence is highly relevant. Ms Heard was the
Defendants’ key witness given it was her account that was likely to determine the outcome of
the case. Neither Mr Wootton (i.e. the journalist who wrote the article in the newspaper) nor
any other journalist at the Sun gave evidence in the case.
The Judge also rejected the Claimant’s (i.e. Depp) narrative that Mr Heard was a ‘nothing
more than a gold-digger’, recognizing, amongst other evidence, that her donation of her $ 7
million to charity did not match with the Claimant’s characterisation of his ex-wife.
This case was dubbed the ‘trial of the century’ and indeed, it captured the attention of the
public, making headlines around the world during a global pandemic.”
(https://www.bindmans.com/insight/blog/case-comment-depp-v-ngn-an-analysis-of-thejudgment - you are NOT required to read the entire article on this link BUT ONLY READ
My own projection as to the outcome of the case: In view of the judge’s findings in the
previous court case in the UK, it would seem likely that the verdict might also be in favour of
Amber Heard in the US. On the other hand, it is important to note that this time in the US, the
verdict will be given by a jury and not by a judge, which should not make a significant
difference since the jury is only expected to return a verdict based on the facts that were
presented in court. On the other hand, it might not be easy for the jury to not be influenced by
the performance not only of the lawyers in court but also of the reactions of Depp and Heard
in the courtroom.
A recent article provides interesting insight into how the views in the media might have
shaped the public opinion: “No matter who 'wins' the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial,
America has lost” (https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/johnny-depp-amberheard-trial-verdict-we-ve-all-lost-n1295801). The writer notes: “Ultimately the jury will decide
whom they believe is telling the truth. But I’m less interested in whether Heard is a liar and
more interested in why so many people are gleefully invested in the idea that she might be.
Millions of people seem suddenly interested in domestic violence — but only because there’s
a chance a scorned and vengeful woman might be lying about it.” – NOT required reading for
the exam)