Camille Vasquez, one of the lawyers representing Johnny Depp in his defamation lawsuit against Amber Heardinterviewed Heard for two days, May 16 and 17.
The moment Vasquez tried to undermine Heard’s credibility and his claims that Depp had sexually assaulted her and was violent with her was described as “often harsh” by deadlinewho noted: “Depp’s lawyers may have lacked a real kitchen, but they tried to throw one figuratively at Heard today during a re-examination of the actress. Aquaman in the judgement for defamation of $50 million.
“This strategy continued during the redirection, with Depp’s attorneys requesting an ‘objection’ on nearly all of Bredehoft’s issues, approximately half of which were upheld by Judge Penny Azcarte.”
The Independent spoke with two attorneys about Vasquez’s cross-examination strategy, including its potential advantages and disadvantages.
Jesse Weber, Lawyer and Network Host Law and crimewho covered the case from the Fairfax County Courthouse, said Vasquez was “impressive” and conducted “very solid cross-examination.”
Mitra Ahouraian, a Beverly Hills entertainment attorney, said Vasquez “came back strong after a week off, which was to be expected.”
“Normally you don’t have a lot of time to prepare – maybe a day, maybe an hour – before you get into cross-examination,” Ahouraian added. “Camille Vasquez had the benefit of over a week to prepare questions in response to Amber Heard’s direct testimony and pivot his game plan based on the answers Heard provided. He had excellent control over Amber in as a witness, keeping her in the way of Depp’s story, controlling her responses to keep her from drifting into areas outside of the story Vasquez wanted her to tell.”
there were some specific challenges in responding to Heard’s cross-examination.
“Whenever you cross-examine an alleged victim of domestic violence, especially sexual violence, you need to be gentle but firm,” Weber said. “I think Vasquez did that. In fact, at one point he made it clear that he had to ask those tough questions because these were serious allegations.”
Ahouraian noted that “Heard had a week to prepare for cross-examination, to review his testimony, and to prepare for questions his team knew would arise.”
“It’s not typical and certainly creates a more difficult witness on cross-examination, but luckily for them Depp’s team had the same extra time to prepare,” he added.
Vasquez’s approach when cross-examining Heard was strong, with the attorney sometimes interrupting Heard, smiling or appearing to show irritation towards the witness. It’s a double-edged sword to convince the jury.
“Never disconnect from the jury,” Weber said. “The jury is a human being and, although it is supposed to follow only the law and the facts, it takes into account the behavior of the lawyers. If a lawyer gets too combative, arrogant or rude, that can be a problem.”
“Vasquez seemed respectful of Heard, but at the same time she was looking to tarnish Heard’s credibility. It can be a tricky dance for a lawyer. This did not necessarily cause Heard to confess anything. However, through Vasquez’s pointed questions, quick answers and smiles, he may have left the jury with the impression that Heard’s stories make no sense.”
Ahouraian said this strategy can often “[poner en peligro] to the witness, [distraerlo] of your answers and [crear] a tension that makes it difficult for the witness to tell their story.
“However, it can be a double-edged sword,” Ahouraian added. “A jury can get irritated with this line of questioning if they feel like the real story isn’t coming out, or if they feel like they’re being manipulated.” Camille Vasquez has to distinguish between being tough on Heard and being nice to the jury.”
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for May 27, after which the jury will deliberate.