The verdict is in, and Johnny Depp has been declared the victor in the defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard. While it’s no surprise to anyone, and many agree with the verdict, Amber’s team could have done better. When you go to court, you, your witnesses, your experts, and your lawyers are on trial. Amber’s team seemed to have forgotten this simple fact. In episode #295 of Negotiations Ninja, Susan Ibitz shared why Amber’s team struggled during the trial.
Amber’s team appeared grossly unprepared
When Johnny’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, interrupted Amber’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, with objections, she was visibly flustered. She didn’t know how to handle the scenario—nor were they able to contain or manage their emotions very well. It was a tell-tale sign that they hadn’t practiced or role-played. They appeared grossly unprepared.
Susan points out that Elaine’s closing was all over and looked unprofessional. And this is a woman who has written books that Larry King wrote the forward to. She’s had years of practice and experience, but she lost control. Humans have an hourglass memory, meaning they remember what happens at the beginning and end of something. Camille was strong, clear, and concise. Elaine was all over the place. And because Camille was the focus at the beginning and end, people remembered her.
Susan points out that not all lawyers can do trials. When you hire a lawyer, you need to hire someone who will be a bulldog in front of the jury. It was a huge mistake to have Elaine handle the closing. Closing should answer doubts the jury may have. Instead of answering those questions, Elaine did more damage.
Thoughts on Dr. Hughes and Dr. Curry
But Amber’s lawyers weren’t the only people on her team that struggled. Dr. Hughes presented herself like the classic Psych doctor from New York would. She was pointing her finger and lecturing others. Every time she talked about abuse, she used “she.” Every time she used the word “abuser,” she used “he.” She only considered that a woman could be the object of physical abuse. That was a huge mistake.
When she was attacked, she became aggressive and started lecturing. Just because you’re the best expert in the world doesn’t mean you can present testimony and be likable. Her answers were unclear, and she answered things that nobody asked. Dr. Hughes also caused more damage than good.
Depp’s expert witness, Dr. Curry, was more likable but poorly dressed. Susan jokes she looked like she was about to go thrift shopping, not be an expert witness in a courtroom. But Dr. Curry managed the situation well. Her demeanor was calm: she didn’t get aggressive or defensive. From the behavioral analysis, Dr. Curry did more good, and Dr. Hughes did more damage to the case.
There was a clear winning team
Depp’s team was more organized, well-practiced, and ready for hearsay objections or leading arguments. They seemed relaxed and focused. Depp even seemed comfortable throughout the process.
Susan notes that perception is everything. Amber Heard’s team interacted like ants in a maze. Johnny’s team was chatting, talking, mingling, and hugging. Amber was stoic, waiting for people to look at her—and no one did.
Susan Ibitz shares her full analysis of the trial in episode #295 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Check it out!