Elon Musk says he can't get fair trial in California, wants Texas

Elon Musk doesn't think he can get a fair trial in San Francisco as potential jurors might be against him due to negative local media coverage

January 08, 2023 04:38 am | Updated 11:19 am IST - WASHINGTON:

Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to shift a trial in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco. File.

Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to shift a trial in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco. File. | Photo Credit: AP

Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to shift a trial in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco because he says negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.

Instead, in a filing submitted late on Friday — less than two weeks before the trial was set to begin on January 17 — Musk's lawyers argue that the trial should be moved to the federal court in the western district of Texas. That district includes the state capital of Austin, which is where Musk relocated his electric car company, Tesla, in late 2021.

If a move isn't possible, Musk's lawyers want the trial postponed until negative publicity regarding Musk's purchase of Twitter has died down.

“For the last several months, the local media have saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in a court filing. Those items have personally blamed Musk for recent layoffs at Twitter, Spiro wrote, and have charged that the job cuts may have even violated laws.

The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk's tweets in August 2018 when he said he had sufficient financing to take Tesla private at $420 a share, an announcement that caused heavy volatility in Tesla's share price.

The shareholders' attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a victory for the shareholders last spring, Judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk's tweets were false and reckless.

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The filing by his attorneys also notes that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 residents in the San Francisco area since he purchased the company in late October.

“A substantial portion of the jury pool ... is likely to hold a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies as individual prospective jurors — or their friends and relatives — may have been personally impacted,” the filing said.

Musk has also been criticized by San Francisco’s mayor and other local officials for the job cuts, the filing said.

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