In May 2022, during the defamation trial brought by actor Johnny Depp against fellow actor and ex-wife Amber Heard, a corner of the internet circulated a video clip that supposedly showed a member of the courtroom’s audience breaking out in uncontrollable laughter and then leaving the room.
It was true that courtroom cameras documented a trial observer bursting into laughter and then exiting. For instance, the courtroom streaming platform Law&Crime Network captured the moment here (note, the video contains no audio):
In the video, the person was shown burying his face in his hands and wiping away tears, while another person nearby appeared to be feeling a similar emotion. We don’t know the identity of the two people, but they bear a physical resemblance to people who have accompanied Depp to court before.
Some social media users questioned why the emotional reaction, or speculated without evidence that the laughter was in response to Heard. (As we’ve reported before, since the trial involved two popular mainstream actors, it also involved large fan bases that vehemently professed their side’s innocence or the other’s guilt.)
[See also on Snopes: Did Amber Heard Steal ‘Talented Mr. Ripley’ Lines During Depp Trial?]
Courtroom cameras didn’t record any audio, as the incident occurred during an attorney sidebar, so it remained unclear to us, as of this writing, what prompted the laughter. The description of the incident on Law&Crime’s YouTube channel stated only that the moment took place on May 17, 2022, during a sidebar conference.
It was not the only instance in which laughter erupted during the trial. Depp was caught on camera dissolving into laughter when Heard’s attorney, Elaine Bredehoft, asked a Disney production executive about alpacas.
Since the trial’s start, we’ve fact-checked other videos supposedly depicting moments from inside the courtroom that have gained traction on social media, like this clip that some people erroneously framed as evidence of Heard sniffing cocaine on the stand, or this footage of a witness purportedly farting during her testimony.
Lampen, Claire. “What Is Johnny Depp’s Deal With Alpacas?” The Cut, 20 May 2022, https://www.thecut.com/2022/05/whats-johnny-depps-deal-with-alpacas-at-defamation-trial.html.