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Johnny Depp’s lawyers have failed to stop the American actor’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, from attending his libel trial against the British tabloid newspaper The Sun until she is called to give evidence.

In a court order published on Saturday, trial judge Andrew Nicol said that excluding Heard from the London courtroom before she testifies in the case “would inhibit the defendants in the conduct of their defense.”

Depp, 57, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and Executive Editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article claiming the actor was violent and abusive to Heard. He strongly denies the allegations.

Depp’s lawyers had asked the judge to keep Heard from attending the trial until the 34-year-old actress and model appears to give evidence, arguing that her testimony would be more reliable if she were not present in court when Depp was being cross-examined.

The judge noted it is News Group and Wootton, and not Heard, that are defending the claim, while conceding they will be relying “heavily” on what Heard says.

The trial, which was postponed from March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to start Tuesday and to last three weeks.

Other witnesses are likely to include Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, who have both submitted statements supporting the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star.


Organizers of a Michigan ballot drive to prohibit discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people said Monday they were evaluating whether to continue following a major victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fair and Equal Michigan launched the ballot effort in January after years of being unable to pass LGBT protections through the Republican-led state Legislature. The proposal would change a 1976 civil rights law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a key provision of a 1964 federal law that bars job discrimination due to sex encompasses bias against LGBT workers. The 6-3 decision does not directly affect discrimination in housing or public facilities.

One of the lawsuits was brought by a Detroit-area transgender woman who was fired by a funeral home after she no longer wanted to be recognized as a man. Aimee Stephens died last month.

Trevor Thomas, co-chairman of the ballot committee, called the ruling “great news” and said the group’s lawyer would advise “how it will impact people in the state of Michigan and our campaign moving forward.”

Since 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has processed complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity after releasing an interpretive statement that said such discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. State Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, told the panel last year it was not bound by her Republican predecessor’s opinion that Michigan law does not ban LGBT discrimination and that it would be up to legislators to change the statute to include such protections.


A preliminary hearing opened Friday at Britain's High Court in the Duchess of Sussex’s legal action against a British newspaper that published what she describes as a “private and confidential” letter she wrote to her father.

Meghan is suing the Mail on Sunday and its parent company, Associated Newspapers, for publishing parts of an August 2018 letter she wrote to Thomas Markle. The civil lawsuit accuses the newspaper of copyright infringement, misuse of private information and violating the U.K.’s data protection law.

Associated Newspapers published sections of the letter in February last year. It denies the allegations — particularly the claim that the letter was presented in a way that changed its meaning.

Lawyers for Associated Newspapers want the court to strike out parts of Meghan’s case ahead of a full trial, arguing that allegations of “dishonesty and malicious intent” should not form part of her case.


The grand jury records from the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia cannot be released despite their great historical significance, a federal appeals court said.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled  8-4 that federal judges don’t have authority to disclose grand jury records for reasons other than those provided for in the rules governing grand jury secrecy.

Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey were riding in a car on a rural road in July 1946 when a white mob stopped it at Moore’s Ford Bridge, overlooking the Apalachee River. The mob dragged the young black sharecroppers to the river’s edge and shot them to death.

The slayings shocked the nation, and the FBI descended upon the rural community in Walton County, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Atlanta. Following a monthslong investigation, more than 100 people reportedly testified before a federal grand jury in December 1946, but no one was indicted.

Historian Anthony Pitch wrote about the killings — “The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town” — and continued his research after the book’s 2016 publication. He learned transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, once thought to have been destroyed, were stored by the National Archives.



The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a man who injured his wife by dousing her with hot grease after she said she was planning to leave him.

Justices handed down a unanimous decision Thursday in the appeal of Kendall Woodson, 42, of Greenwood, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

“We cannot find any arguable issue for appeal or reversible error committed by the trial court,” Justice David Ishee wrote in upholding the conviction.

Woodson was convicted in 2017 of domestic aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is in the Holmes/Humphreys County Correctional Facility in Lexington.

Woodson and his wife had been married for 20 years at the time of the assault. According to court records, Anita Woodson testified that she got home from work around 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2015. During an argument, she told her husband she was going to leave him the next day.

She fell asleep, then woke up when Kendall Woodson pulled her up by the hair, began beating her and poured hot cooking oil on her head, while threatening to kill her. Anita Woodson was severely burned and received a concussion.



Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to more than three years in prison Thursday for obstructing a congressional investigation in a case that has sparked fears about presidential interference in the justice system.

Soon after Judge Amy Berman Jackson pronounced sentence, Trump publicly decried Stone’s conviction as unfair and prominent Republican legislators were giving tacit support for a pardon. But Trump said he wasn’t ready to act just yet.

“I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do because I would love to see Roger exonerated,” he said. “I’m going to watch the process. I’m going to watch very closely. … At some point I’ll make a determination.”

The case was marked by the Justice Department’s extraordinary about-face on a sentencing recommendation and a very public dispute between Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who said the president was undermining the department’s historical independence and making “it impossible for me to do my job.”

The president responded by asserting that he was the “chief law enforcement officer of the federal government.”

Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted on charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.


A Munich court on Monday convicted a German man of more than a dozen offenses of attempted murder for tricking women and girls into giving themselves electric shocks while he watched over the internet.

The regional court in the Bavarian capital sentenced the man, identified only as David G. for privacy reasons, to 11 years' imprisonment.

Court spokesman Florian Gliwitzky told The Associated Press that the 31-year-old defendant would be sent to a secure psychiatric clinic for treatment.

Prosecutors said the man contacted women and girls as young as 13 online over a five-year period starting in 2013, claiming to be a doctor seeking paid volunteers for a medical experiment on pain perception. He then persuaded them to attach a home-made contraption to the electricity mains and their extremities while he watched and issued instructions. None of the victims was ever paid.

Judges concluded that 13 of the 88 cases constituted attempted murder because the defendant had told the women to hold the cables to their temples or feet, causing electricity to flow through their brains or hearts.

The court also convicted him of two counts of serious bodily harm and five counts of premeditated bodily harm, of breaching the victims' privacy by filming them, and of illegally claiming to have a medical degree.


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