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Amber Heard defense strategy: how to win the Johnny Depp defamation trial

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Amber defense right now is failing.

To say, well... The least.

She's not only losing in court but, more importantly for these guys' job, she's failing the public opinion.

Johnny Depp has become the world's darling, and she has become the witch monster.

Of course the allegation of rape, if false, are shameful so she had it coming.

But if we're looking at strategies, than her strategies are terrible.

Amber's poor defense strategy

So far her stance has been that:

Any time she sought Johnny Depp, it was to protect him against drug abuse.

No matter how pained, hurt, crazy, or desperate she sounded, she maintained that it was not because Johnny Depp was causing her (involuntary) distress with his stonewalling and "need for space", but because she wanted to protect him.

That strategy is backfiring badly because:

  1. It's pretty obvious it's not true, hence
  2. She looks like a manipulative, lying (bad) spinmaster

Amber's poor attack strategy on Depp

She attacks Johnny Depp as being violently abusive.

That also fails because it seems to run contrary to all evidence we're seeing and hearing.

Again, she comes across as a manipulative liar trying to frame a poor man (it becomes easy for Depp to play the part of the good man).

Her current strategy misses on the biggest opportunities that the evidence of a pained Amber Herd are offering her to attack Johnny Depp.

Such as:

  1. Frame herself as a pained victim
  2. Frame Johnny Depp as unwilling and insensitive to meet her needs
  3. Frame Johnny Depp as indirectly abusive for sticking to his needs of space, no matter how crazy it would drive her

Owning her diagnosis: the power of vulnerability

To take advantage of it all, Amber Heard should "simply" own up to her diagnosis of BPD / anxious attachment style.

The line would be:

Yes, I needed to engage Johnny Depp whenever there were troubles.
Johnny cruelly escaping was mentally torturing me (and he didn't care, and let me suffer).

Of course Depp could then defend that it was not his job to pander to Amber's exaggerated needs for engagement while disregarding his own needs for space.

And he'd be right!

But even then, the whole trial would narrative around this trial would change completely.

It would be more like a "draw" in court and, even more importantly for actors, in public opinion.
More like an interesting case of toxic relationship, but without a monster and a poor victim.
More like two victims and two (unwilling) monsters.

It would become obvious the couple was simply poorly matched, each having their own issues that made them highly incompatible with each other (result: anxious-avoidant trap, to an extreme).

Made a video on it (but this post better clarifies the strategy):

John Freeman and Growfast have reacted to this post.
John FreemanGrowfast
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Your posts on this trial are great Lucio, shedding light on it and the underlying power dynamics.

While I understand your post is an invitation to think out of the box and see things differently in some ways, I wanted to chip in with an observation on why (most likely) she is keeping this line of defense.

Lawyers by profession are very risk-averse in everything they do.

If a lawyer can choose between a defense strategy that has a 30% chance of succeeding but gives no opening to the counterparty, and a defense strategy that has a 70% chance of succeeding but automatically gives points or openings to the counterpart, 99% of lawyers would go with the former.

In other words, very few lawyers would willingly choose a defense like "My client has borderline personality disorder and suffers greatly", unless it is the only defense possible.

I'm simplifying of course; and also, there are cases in which this would be in fact the best strategy, and there are cases where lawyers go counter to this "common behavior".

But still, knowing this "common behavior" can paradoxically allow a good lawyer to sometimes anticipate the strategy of the other lawyer, which is, most of the times, going to be exactly the one that leaves less openings as possible to the other party.

And one of the best parts of being a lawyer consists precisely on constantly adapting to the reasoning and defense of the counterpart, and - at the pinnacle of lawyering - taking something the other party says or does or deposits and using it against it.

Because Judges and Juries are very wary of believing in what people have to say that is favorable to themselves; but they are also very quick in believing what someone says that goes counter to that someone's own interests.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanGrowfast

Thank you, Bel, this is enlightening.

That makes sense from a legal perspective (and obviously anything I say legal-wise is less than the proverbial 2 cents).

My proposed approach was extremely high risk indeed.
More like a "frontrunner approach" that, if it worked, would launch Amber as the champion of all the people (many of whom are women) who suffer from BPD and anxious attachment psychological ailments.
And she could then double down on that to become a "recovering toxic relationship expert" and sensibilize the world in co-dependent and lose-lose vicious cycles.

A good contrast to Depp's now championing the "men can be abused as well" (which is true of course and it's good that this thing is now clear for everyone to see).

Purely from a legal perspective, I guess the only thing she could hope for in embracing her diagnosis is a draw: I was abused, he was abused, it was toxic for both (albeit she could still try to frame it as "I was abused far more than he was because I was close to suicide, also far easier to defend than the made-up beatings).
That doesn't seem so far-fetched to me as it's probably most close to the reality.

Even if she'd lose the case, she'd have an easier time in retaining people's goodwill, which is also very important (while instead even if she'd win the case right now, she'd still be the monster. If not even a bigger monster for having won and containing to abuse poor Johnny).

Still, legally speaking, less than 2cents worth 🙂

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John FreemanBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Witnesses power dynamics

The witnesses you bring to your case reflect on you.

People associate your witnesses and "expert testimonies" with "your team".

So their behavior and demeanor reflect on you as "part of your team".

And that isnt' even too wrong, since people tend to associate with people like them.
So it makes sense that the people around you, and the people you pick, are more likely to be more similar to you.

Bringing this David Spiegel on was a disaster:

He was angry, argumentative, and aggressive.

And he refused to own up to simple truths, always trying to get a "win" at all costs -annoyingly overly dominant and disempowering to others-.

At times, he seemed incoherent and crazy.

That reflected on Amber's Heard whole team -and on Amber-.

Since Amber was already pre-associated with traits such as aggression, craziness, and manipulation, that powerfully reinforced the perception that all about Amber is aggressive, manipulative, and crazy.

"Of course, they'd take someone like that to the stand", people think, "because this angry wacko is exactly like her".

Contrast to the doctor's testimony of Depp: calm, collected, collaborative.

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GrowfastBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

100%

BTW, witness/lawyer power dynamics are fascinating. There is so much to say I don’t know where to start.

Example

Lawyer: Did I read that right?
Witness: Yes you did.

If this is not asserting dominance I don’t know what it is. Also the fact that they kept repeating it so it becomes annoying and the witness loses a bit of his cool (submission after submission after submission).

So many tactics.

One of my favorite is that when a witness contradicts himself or says something inconsistent or loses credibility in any shape or form, the lawyer will:

Let a silence for a few seconds start again with a new question: « Let’s talk about… ». As soon as the person lost credibility or the argument refuted the pass has been won by the lawyer and he can move on. As a bystander this time also let it sink in our mind, like a form of surfacing.

The underlying frame of most cross-examination is: this witness/expert is not credible.

And then they refute the arguments as well of course.

We can see this in this testimony you posted.

Also, these lawyers are real masters at logic, I enjoy it a lot.

 

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Lucio BuffalmanoBel

The whole Heard and Depp case going on is all over YouTube with clips.

Seems like Depp has won the court of Public opinion.

It will be nearly impossible for Amber heard to bounce back unless there is some sort of miracle.

I recently came upon a video clip of the trial and wondered why Amber heard teams are straight up being rude and defensive.

Heard's Lawyer to witness :- this gives you your 15 minutes of fame. (Attacking the character of the witness).

The witness's comeback to this was quite good and Heard's lawyer lost face.

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Lucio BuffalmanoBel
Quote from John Freeman on May 26, 2022, 9:32 am

Let a silence for a few seconds start again with a new question: « Let’s talk about… ». As soon as the person lost credibility or the argument refuted the pass has been won by the lawyer and he can move on. As a bystander this time also let it sink in our mind, like a form of surfacing.

The underlying frame of most cross-examination is: this witness/expert is not credible.

Yeah, it's thread-expanding.

And so are laughs, by the way.

All those YB clips with sheep liking and commenting on the various:

  • Johnny Deep cracks up
  • Lawyers can't stop laughing at...

But only idiots laugh randomly.

Any good strategist only laughs at an opponent's mistake to thread-expand and highlight that mistake.

Yes, lawyers are very good at logic indeed. I'm also loving these clips because of that (so much better than Covid news :D).

Where I'm seeing a lot more mistakes though is when it comes to social strategies to enlist public opinion, and persuasion.

Quote from Growfast on May 26, 2022, 10:05 am

The whole Heard and Depp case going on is all over YouTube with clips.

Seems like Depp has won the court of Public opinion.

It will be nearly impossible for Amber heard to bounce back unless there is some sort of miracle.

I recently came upon a video clip of the trial and wondered why Amber heard teams are straight up being rude and defensive.

Heard's Lawyer to witness :- this gives you your 15 minutes of fame. (Attacking the character of the witness).

The witness's comeback to this was quite good and Heard's lawyer lost face.

Great comeback from the witness indeed.

And very poor answer from the lawyer.

The question she asked was also poor:

So this gets you your 15 minutes of fame

The only answer for him to that question is "no", or to push back in any way.

At most, she gets a draw because her interest is to discredit him, and his interest is to defend himself.

Instead, she had to insinuate his goal was fame, seed the doubt.

She started doing that with "you know this case is televised, right", but she didn't surface his darker and selfish self-interest.

For example:

TMZ profits when things go viral, right?

For people in that line of business, virality and getting eyeballs and views are important, right?

Well, would you say that for you to come here, talk about TMZ and talk about yourself, you and TMZ you would also increase your exposure?

At that point he can say no -and most certainly he will-.
But he can say no all the times he wants: everyone subconsciously knows that in his self-interst to deny, so his denial matters little.
The seed of doubt is planted: was he there just to get the spotlight?

She could have then gone on:

Most of the public opinion so far has a positive opinion about Johnny Depp, right?
You being here and supporting Johnny Depp, that aligns with the public opinion, I suppose, right?

And then a final snarky comment to conclude:

Sound just like a dream come true: getting your 15 minutes of fame, and doing so while aligning with the public opinion. Great job Mr. Bredehoft.

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Growfast
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

One has to wonder how would this whole trial affect the reputation of lawyers on both sides.

If Depp's lawyers win then their reputation will have a positive increase and they will start getting more clients and can also get more pay. In public they will be hailed as the good ones and heroes of righteousness.

 

The only thing for Amber's Lawyers seems to be an increase in Negative reputation. If they lose the case they will start losing clients (or they can say how the fought a losing a battle and yet stayed so long for defending themselves maybe) .

In Public they will be the ones who sided with the devil and will be seen as people with no ethics and morals. (Seems like people are already giving negative reviews to the psychologist who was for Amber Heard).

 

Working as a lawyer who is known to the public seems to carry quite a social risk.

 

 

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Lucio Buffalmano

Looking worse and worse for Amber.

The TMZ employee made it seem like she leaked the video of an angry Depp herself.
And Kate Moss landed further support to the image of Depp as a non-violent man -something that comes easy to believe looking at his overall demeanor-.

When Heard was asked how come so many came to support Depp, she appealed to the "powerful man advantage" and people who want to curry favor with "powerful men".
Might as well put "powerful white men" in there to come across as even more desperate and manipulative.

Still, in my legal ignorance, her legal team seems to be rather incompetent when it comes to persuasion and strategies.

Example:

Persuasion failure: all Depp's most damning texts are conveniently not sent by him?

From the disadvantage point of only having a few vids, it seemed to me like the lawyers had some golden evidence to discredit Depp and his image of "good, innocent victim".

But totally failed to take advantage of it:

Transcript:

Instead of thread-expanding on the toxicity of the texts and the absurdity that Depp passes his phone around and only claims ownership of the "good" texts he sent, he largely accepts his version, moves on, and even lands credibility to it just a little later when he asks about Depp's asking his friends to "placate" Amber for him with this phone.

Of course, it might be totally true that Depp gives his phone around and the worst texts are not from him.
But the Amber's lawyers are still doing a poor job at not casting doubt on such a strange (and convenient) behavior.

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Connor JacksonBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

AH lawyer missed a golden opportunity to discredit and make Johny look bad, if he had struck to this line of questioning  after Johny's answer, it would have been possible for him to plant a seed of doubt in the Jury's mind about JD's  innocence. A few follow up questions would have done the trick, a) who did you give your phone to? (after the name drop, that person could be brought forth to the stand), b) once you discovered that the message was sent, why didn't you clarify it wasn't you?

AH lawyers held a smoking gun, in their hands and they didn't use it....I would have loved to see Camille or anyone from JD, team put forth a defense or tear down that line of attack.

Most Power moves do not work in the court, the person in the box always starts of power down, only way they can power back up is if the lawyer intentionally or inadvertently allows, them to . For a person on the stand during a cross, it is always a win-lose scenario and the best one can do is try to minimize one's losses.

 

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