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4.4: Forum Shopping with Johnny Depp


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II. Transcript

Daniel 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the USLawEssentials law and language podcast, the legal English podcast for non-native English speakers that helps you improve your English, listening, improve your legal English vocabulary and build your knowledge of American legal culture. Before we begin today’s episode, I wanted to remind you that USLawEssentials offers online legal English, and online us law courses. Our courses are designed for students bar exam candidates, attorneys, and translators. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Daniel at daniel@uslawessentials.com or visit us at uslawessentials.com and join us on LinkedIn and Facebook. And now today’s episode.

Daniel Welcome to the USLawEssentials Law & Language podcast. I’m Daniel Edelson

Stephen 1 00:00:56 And I’m Stephen Horowitz. And in today’s episode, we continue our What’s New in the Legal News Series. Uh, today is Dan’s turn to pick a topic. Dan what’d you pick for us?

Daniel 0 00:01:07 I remember last time we were talking about Johnny Depp. So I found another article about the Johnny Depp trial in which he’s suing Amber Heard. And the name of this article is one second…. And the name of this article is Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s Defamation Trial Explained, and we have the link to the article in our show notes as usual.

Stephen 1 00:01:30 And then is there a certain part of the article that you wanna focus on?

Daniel 0 00:01:33 Yeah, the part of the article that I wanna focus on is why is this trial being heard in Virginia?

Stephen 1 00:01:40 Wait, wait, wait. This trial’s in Virginia? Aren’t these two Hollywood celebrities? Why isn’t it in California?

Daniel 0 00:01:46 I was surprised too. I assumed that this was being heard in some LA court, but no it’s in Virginia and the article sort of explains why.

Stephen 1 00:01:57 Oh, why?

Daniel 0 00:01:58 All right. So the reason is because Johnny Depp, the plaintiff wanted to pick a state that would have laws favorable to him. And his lawyers realized apparently that California law would be bad for his case, but Virginia law would be just fine. So he chose to sue in Virginia.

Stephen 1 00:02:23 You can do that in the US? I mean, you can just, because I guess there’s 50 states, there’s 50 different laws or I guess some states have laws, certain laws and some states don’t and you can just choose to, to sue in one state or another state.

Daniel 0 00:02:36 Yeah. I mean, and people do this, do this all the time. They do it internationally too. Where you go forum shopping.

Stephen 1 00:02:43 Forum shopping. You mean like, like you shop for, for the forum, for the place, for the, for the court, that’s gonna be most favorable to you.

Daniel 0 00:02:52 Yeah. Yeah. So I, so a forum is a, is a place, right? Yes. So in this case, forum means the place of litigation. So you’re choosing strategically the best place to sue and apparently, California, would’ve been the worst place to sue, but Virginia laws were better.

Stephen 1 00:03:08 Oh, wow. And so, and you’re allowed to just sue in any state you want? There’s no, uh, limitations?

Daniel 0 00:03:15 No, there has to be, there has to be connections between the court and, and the nature of the litigation or the parties involved. And, but apparently, apparently there was a connection between Johnny Depp’s lawsuit and Virginia.

Stephen 1 00:03:34 Wow. What kind of connection could there be?

Daniel 0 00:03:36 According to this article, Johnny Depp was suing the defendant because she defamed him. She lied about him and she did this allegedly by publishing an article in a newspaper called the Washington Post. And you know, the Washington Post, right?

Stephen 1 00:03:54 Washington Post is yeah, that’s, that’s one of the most famous and esteemed newspapers in the, in the US.

Daniel 0 00:04:01 Yeah. And we, we, we obviously associate the Washington Post with Washington, DC, but apparently, the Washington Post company has offices in the State of Virginia.

Stephen 1 00:04:13 Oh, wow. And so it just has some offices there and that’s enough.

Daniel 0 00:04:17 Well, according to this article, it also has the servers for its online publication. And so Amber Heard, apparently published this article in the Washington Post. The Washington Post is published in Virginia. It, the company has offices in Virginia and its online servers are in Virginia. And apparently, that was enough of a connection.

Stephen 1 00:04:42 And, and Amber Heard, I mean, she can’t be too happy about this. She lives in California and now she has to go all the way out to Virginia for this trial.

Daniel 0 00:04:50 Yeah. I mean, I, I assume, you know, she travels in style, but Amber Heard’s lawyers made a number of arguments as to why California would be the correct forum and not Virginia, but I guess those arguments were rejected.

Stephen 1 00:05:06 Yeah. I guess the court that, where the lawsuit is filed gets to make the, at least the initial decision about whether to hear the case there or not.

Daniel 0 00:05:15 Yeah. So I, I imagine that if there’s, uh, a trial and a verdict that, um, maybe Amber Heard’s lawyers could try to appeal on grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction, that it didn’t have the power to, to hear this case, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Stephen 1 00:05:33 Wow. So it’s, it’s interesting that people go forum shopping within the United States. That sounds like a really complicated area of law to, to learn about if you’re a lawyer in the US.

Daniel 0 00:05:46 Yeah. Its certainly something that, um, lawyers have to consider – – you – – where, where, where do they wanna bring their case? Which court would give their clients the best advantage? So it’s a, it’s a consideration to keep in mind.

Stephen 1 00:06:00 So do we have to worry about Johnny Depp suing us? And if so in what states do you think he could sue us? I mean, you’re in, you’re in New Jersey, I’m in Maryland.

Daniel 0 00:06:11 Well, you know, if, if Johnny Depp decides to sue us, I, I, I figure, you know, all publicity is good publicity, so I, I, I would just be so happy. Maybe I would just, um, maybe I wouldn’t mind being sued anywhere.

Stephen 1 00:06:23 Yeah. There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Okay. Okay. So Johnny Depp, if you wanna sue us, you can sue us in whatever state you want. Great.

Daniel 0 00:06:31 Great. And I, I know he’s a big fan of the podcast <laugh> but, but, uh, so Steve, um, thanks very much. So I hope you and you and Johnny stay essential.

Stephen 1 00:06:40 Okay. And I hope you and Amber Heard stay essential as well.

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