Ryan Baker Quoted by BBC on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Defamation Trial and SLAPP

In an April 11, 2022 BBC article, Co-Managing Partner Ryan Baker said, “It’s not uncommon for a plaintiff to choose the forum, but that doesn’t explain why they chose Virginia over California … in California, I think Heard would have just knocked this case out right away.”

The reason said Baker is because of anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) laws, which are state statutes that give provide protection to speech related to matters of public interest. “If someone, like Amber Heard, writes something about domestic violence and spousal abuse – those are clearly mattes of public interest. She has some form of immunity for saying those things.”

While both Virginia and California have anti-SLAPP laws, the California law is stronger, allowing defendants to invoke protection immediately while the Virginia law cannot be used in the early phases of the trial.

After divorcing Depp, Heard wrote a 2018 opinion article for the Washington Post in which she wrote about her experience as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Heard did not name Depp, but Depp filed suit arguing the article “incalculably” damaged his reputation.

Baker said, “It seems to me that his strategy may be backfiring. There are now endless opportunities for a peanut gallery to form. At the end of the day, is it better just to move on?

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