Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: Wasting the Court’s Time and Our Tax Dollars

by Kerry Dougherty

Anyone remember John Allen Muhammed?

In 2002, with the country still on edge from the terror attacks of 2001, Muhammed and a young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, began shooting innocent civilians from the trunk of a car in the suburbs around Washington D.C. In all, the two psychopaths killed 10 random strangers. Some victims were pumping gas, others were crossing strip mall parking lots or loading groceries into their cars.

The capriciousness of the killings terrified Virginians and Marylanders. After-school activities were cancelled in some places and people were wary of getting out of their vehicles.

When the two were finally apprehended, authorities decided that Muhammed’s first trial should be in Virginia. After all, they reasoned, he was charged with capital murder in the Old Dominion. If convicted and sentenced to die, the sentences in Maryland wouldn’t really matter.

The trial was held in Virginia Beach Circuit Court. As is usual in that city, the case was handled professionally and with dispatch.

Four weeks after jury selection ended a verdict was rendered: guilty. The penalty: death.

Other trials were held in Maryland, but Muhammed was put to death by lethal injection in Virginia on November 10, 2009, just seven years after his shooting spree.

His younger accomplice was sentenced to four life terms in Virginia and six in Maryland. A new law in Virginia that makes juveniles sentenced to life in prison eligible for parole after 20 years in prison means Malvo is eligible for parole this year.

One more reason to celebrate Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s election: there is little chance Youngkin’s appointees to the parole board will free the Beltway Sniper.

Why do I bring this up now? To illustrate that justice is usually rendered swiftly and without a lot of fanfare in Virginia. Our federal courts, with their famous “rocket docket,” are similarly inclined.

Which brings us to the Johnny Depp defamation suit against his ex-wife Amber Heard in Fairfax Country. That trial – with its circus-like atmosphere – is in its 7th week and the jury is expected to resume deliberations today.

The trial itself has been a YouTube sensation, proving that too many Americans need to get out off their derrières and back to the office. Every moment spent watching this grotesque she said-he said soap opera costs the viewer a dozen IQ points.

This dysfunctional couple, married for just two years, put their addictions, their temper tantrums, their imbecilic and repulsive behavior on display for almost two months.

In doing so they’ve left their reputations – to the extent they had any – in tatters. It’s hard to imagine any director hiring either actor again. Their erratic and violent history renders them uninsurable.

Why should Virginians care about two Hollywood narcissists beating each other up for money? Well, for one thing, their endless hissy fits are costing taxpayers lots of money.

No one that I can find has added up the cost of the trial so far, but for six weeks taxpayers have been on the hook for the salaries of sheriff’s deputies, courtroom personnel, the judge, bailiffs, court reporters, clerks and others. No doubt added security was needed to protect the stars of this sick psycho-drama from the fans who packed the courtroom every day.

The case centers on an op-ed Heard wrote for The Washington Post alleging that she’d been the victim of domestic abuse. While she didn’t name her ex, Depp claims she was clearly writing about him. That newspaper piece damaged his reputation, Depp claims.

Surely this entire trial has permanently damaged his reputation far worse than a single op-ed.

Depp is seeking $50 million from his ex-wife and she has countersued him.

The jury could render its verdict as early as today. If I were a member of that panel, I wouldn’t award a dime to either repugnant party.

The courts are there to render justice for those accused of committing crimes and to adjudicate legitimate civil matters. This courtroom carnival in Fairfax County is not only a waste of time and money but a gross misuse of the courts.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.