Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: Wasting court time and our taxes

by Kerry Dougherty

Anyone remember John Allen Muhammed?

In 2002, with the country still tense after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Muhammed and a young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, began shooting innocent civilians from the trunk of a car in suburban Washington DC. In total, the two psychopaths killed 10 people. random strangers. Some victims were pumping gas, others were driving through strip mall parking lots or loading groceries into their cars.

The capricious nature of the murders terrified the people of Virginia and Maryland. After-school activities were canceled in some places and people were reluctant to get out of their vehicles.

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

The trial took place in Virginia Beach Circuit Court. As is customary in this city, the matter was handled with professionalism and diligence.

Four weeks after jury selection ended, a verdict was returned: 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.

His youngest accomplice received four life sentences in Virginia and six in Maryland. A new law in Virginia that makes minors 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 the election of Governor Glenn Youngkin: the people named by Youngkin to the parole board are unlikely to release the Beltway Sniper.

Why am I talking about it now? To illustrate that justice is generally done quickly and without fanfare in Virginia. Our federal courts, with their famous “rocket case,” are similarly inclined.

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

The lawsuit itself caused a stir on YouTube, proving that too many Americans need to get out of their behinds and back into the office. Every moment spent watching this grotesque, she says, says the soap opera costs the viewer a dozen IQ points.

This dysfunctional couple, married for only two years, staged for almost two months their addictions, their tantrums, their foolish and repulsive behavior.

In doing so, they left their reputation – insofar as they had any – in tatters. It’s hard to imagine a director hiring either actor again. Their erratic and violent history makes them uninsurable.

Why should Virginians care about two Hollywood narcissists fighting over money? Well, on the one hand, their endless whistle tantrums are costing taxpayers a lot of money.

No one I can find has so far calculated the cost of the trial, but for six weeks taxpayers had to pay the salaries of sheriff’s deputies, courtroom staff, the judge, bailiffs, court reporters, clerks and others. Undoubtedly, extra security was needed to protect the stars of this sick psychodrama from the fans who filled the courtroom every day.

The case centers on an op-ed Heard wrote for The Washington Post alleging she had been the victim of domestic violence. Although she didn’t name her ex, Depp claims she was writing about him clearly. This newspaper article damaged his reputation, Depp claims.

Certainly, this whole lawsuit has permanently damaged his reputation, far worse than a single editorial.

Depp demands $50 million from his ex-wife and she counters.

The jury could render its verdict today. If I was a member of this panel, I wouldn’t give a dime to either repugnant party.

Courts are there to bring justice to people accused of crimes and to adjudicate legitimate civil cases. This Fairfax County courtroom carnival is not just a waste of time and money, but a gross abuse of the courts.

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

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