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The court of public opinion
In an ideal world, perception should mean nothing. It's subjective — the product of biases we grew up with and cannot shake off even if we tried.
Jurors are people too and hardly exempt from forming perceptions. And I'm pretty sure that Johnny Depp's and Amber Heard's high-priced lawyers were well aware of that. They would have exerted their best effort to prepare their clients so that the jurors could perceive them in the best light. They would have done their best to choose the most credible expert witnesses too.
Yet, it seems that their best efforts weren't enough.
There was Johnny Depp mumbling and rambling on the witness stand. Half the time, he was barely coherent. Considering that a huge part of the case is about his domestic behavior toward his wife when he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, well, his demeanor didn't help create an image of a drug-free man. His lawyers might have better coached him on what to wear in court, how to answer questions, and the importance of making eye contact with the jurors.
Amber Heard appeared to have been better prepared. Impeccably dressed. Articulate. Her testimony was better understood. She made eye contact with the jurors. Too much, in fact, and too often. And she overdid it. She shed tears easily when examined by her own lawyers. But, on cross-examination, she seemed to be a different person. Belligerent. The way she tried to outtalk Camille Vasquez during cross-examination is the behavior of a person who insists on being in control under all circumstances. The anger was plain on her face whenever the judge cut her short. It just heightened the perception that she's a narcissist who cold-bloodedly set up her husband to put him at a disadvantage when the inevitable divorce happened.
And insofar as preparations go, I wonder why Amber Heard's lawyers chose to put Dr. Dawn Hughes on the stand at all. I have a lot of respect for confident women, but there is a line that separates confidence from arrogance. By her own admission, in evaluating Amber Heard and concluding that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she did not follow the guidelines in a manual that she herself was bandying about to Depp's lawyers. That's not professional confidence; that's plain arrogance.
The trial had been both entertaining and disturbing. Some parts were more entertaining and disturbing than others.
One thing that I found particularly disturbing, and quite annoying, really, was how one of Amber Heard's lawyers, Elaine Bredehoft, accused witnesses of wanting their "15 minutes of fame." Naturally, I applauded the last part of the testimony of ex-TMZ employee Morgan Tremaine who, after Bredehoft accused of seeking his 15 minutes of fame, retorted by saying, "I could say the same thing by taking Amber Heard as a client for you."
But the most disturbing part was TMZ's motion to intervene to prevent Tremaine from testifying based on journalistic ethics and the right of a reporter to refuse to name a source. If it were a legitimate news entity making the claim, the motion would have been interesting. But TMZ and journalistic ethics belong in different universes. It was laughable.
All that, I pondered over a cup of coffee. What about you? What were your thoughts when you had your first cup of coffee today?