The judge and court staff who have sat through six weeks of testimony in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard received a round of applause as the jury finally began deliberations in the case.
The courtroom in Fairfax County, Virginia, witnessed a rare moment of lightheartedness – and agreement between the legal teams for the former spouses – on Friday afternoon as they showed their thanks to Judge Penney Azcarate.
After sending the jury out to deliberate on the multi-million-dollar case, Judge Azcarate thanked Mr Depp’s and Ms Heard’s attorneys for their “professionalism” and all the court staff for their work during the high-profile trial.
“I just want to thank all of you for the professionalism and your hard work during this case,” she said.
“It’s much easier being a judge when you have excellent trial attorneys in front of you it does make it easier.
“And I also want to thank the attorneys and litigants for the kindness and the great demeanour you have shown my staff.
“And the courthouse staff and the deputies in the sheriff’s department, I really appreciate it. It means a great deal to me.”
She added of the court stenographer: “And I also appreciate Judy because she is a rock star.”
The courtroom erupted in laughter at this last comment and people began to clap, to which Judge Azcarate smiled: “Well that’s a first.”
Ms Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft then responded by thanking the judge for her work on the case.
Moments later, the court erupted in laughter once again as Mr Depp’s attorney Ben Chew went to agree with Ms Bredehoft but accidentally slipped up after six weeks of disagreeing with Ms Heard’s team.
“That is one thing that Miss Bredehoft and we respectfully disag-agree, completely agree!” he said.
As the courtroom laughed, the judge joked: “Well good. I’m glad on the last day we finally have an agreement.”
The seven-person jury will now decide the case between the two spouses after listening to a series of explosive allegations and claims since the trial began back on 11 April.
Mr Depp is suing his ex-wife for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she penned for The Washington Post where she described herself as a “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor is not named in the article, which is titled “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
However Mr Depp claims that it falsely implies that he is a domestic abuser – something that he strongly denies – and that it has left him struggling to land roles in Hollywood. He is suing for $50m (£40m).
Ms Heard is countersuing for $100m (£79m), accusing Mr Depp of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment”.
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