Amber Heard, the ex-wife of actor Johnny Depp, has been granted the right to make an immunity argument in her ongoing defamation case against her former husband. On Tuesday, a judge ruled against Depp, who had sought to bar Heard’s lawyers from claiming immunity.
The case revolves around an op-ed Heard wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018, in which she described her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. Depp is suing Heard for defamation, claiming that the op-ed falsely accused him of domestic violence.
The judge’s ruling does not mean Heard has immunity for what she wrote but simply that she can make that argument to a jury as part of her defence. In the ruling, the judge noted that Heard’s lawyers had presented “sufficient evidence” to support the immunity argument.
The immunity argument is based on the principle of “litigation privilege,” which holds that a person cannot be sued for statements made in the course of a legal proceeding. In this case, Heard’s lawyers argued that her op-ed was written in the context of a legal proceeding, namely the couple’s divorce proceedings.
The judge’s ruling is a major victory for Heard, who has been fighting Depp’s defamation lawsuit since it was filed in March 2019. While the ruling does not guarantee that Heard will be successful in her immunity argument, it does mean that she will be able to make her case to a jury.
The ruling also serves as a reminder that the legal system can be used to protect victims of domestic violence. By allowing Heard to make an immunity argument, the judge has given her the opportunity to tell her story and to potentially protect herself from a costly defamation lawsuit.
The case is ongoing and a trial date has yet to be set. In the meantime, Heard will continue to make her immunity argument in the hopes of avoiding a costly legal battle.