Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Psychologist hired by Depp lawyers testifies about Heard’s mental health

In cross-examination, a Heard attorney questioned the psychologist about drinks and dinner with Depp.

FAIRFAX, Va. (CN) — A clinical and forensic psychologist who took the witness stand Tuesday in Johnny Depp's defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard claimed she displays symptoms of borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder but has been feigning symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

But when cross-examined, Shannon Curry admitted that she had dinner and drinks with Depp and members of his legal team while being vetted as an expert witness for the actor’s defamation case, now on trial at the Fairfax County Judicial Center.

Depp’s lawyers called Curry to the stand to testify on the tenth day of a trial focused on the actor’s claims that he was defamed by an op-ed Heard wrote in December 2018. The piece, published in The Washington Post, was about policy to help domestic abuse survivors and never mentioned Depp, 58, by name. But Heard, 36, also wrote that she had become a "public figure representing domsetic abuse" two years earlier — when she had been married to Depp.

Throughout the trial, the toxic nature of the relationship has been the throughline of much of the testimony. Curry spent 12 hours evaluating Heard using various testing methods. “The results of Ms. Heard’s evaluations supported two diagnoses: borderline personality disorder and borderline histrionic disorder,” Curry said during direct testimony.  

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by instability, Curry said. “It’s instability in personal relationships; instability in their emotions, instability in their behavior. And it is instability in their sense of self, their identity,” Curry testified. There is an underlying terror of abandonment, she explained. Histrionic personality disorder, she said, is a condition characterized by dramatics and a desire for attention.

Heard has contended that Depp assaulted her. In testimony, Curry asserted that she believed that Heard was feigning post-traumatic stress disorder. She came to this conclusion by examining multiple records and giving Heard a PTSD assessment. Heard, she said, grossly exaggerated symptoms of PTSD when asked about them.

In cross-examination, Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, asked Curry, “Now, you went to Mr. Depp’s home for dinner and drinks before you were hired as an expert in this case. Correct?”  

“That’s not quite right,” said Curry. “I was interviewed at Mr. Depp’s home by his legal team. Dinner was served.”

The dinner, Bredehoft went on, lasted three or four hours. “And it included drinks, correct?”

“Dinner and I believe drinks were served,” Curry confirmed. The interview, she said, was so that the attorneys could make an informed decision about whether to hire her.

“Don’t you think that’s a little odd,” Bredehoft remarked. “That you are getting interviewed by Mr. Depp to decide whether you’re going to testify adversely against Amber Heard?”

“I was interviewed by the legal team,” Curry said.

“And Mr. Depp was present. It was his home, correct?” Bredehoft pressed.

“Yes,” Curry said.

Bredehoft also pointed out that Depp had previously said he thought Heard had borderline personality disorder. "Are you aware that Mr. Depp is on an audio-recording years earlier taunting Ms. Heard that she has a borderline personality disorder?"

When Curry said she was aware of the recording, Bredehoft responded, "So, it's a coincidence then, that you came up with symptoms of borderline personality disorder years after Mr. Depp had been taunting Ms. Heard?"

Depp's attorneys also referred to that disorder before Curry made the evaluation, Bredehoft said. Curry maintains that her opinions were the result of her assessment.

Other witnesses Tuesday included one of Depp’s property managers. Separately, jurors watched a video of a deposition of a police officer who answered a call made by Heard in 2016 as the couple’s marriage was ending.

Depp is asking for $50 million in damages. Heard has filed a counterclaim asking for $100 million. The trial continues tomorrow.

Categories / Civil Rights, Entertainment, Media, Trials

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.