Elon Musk Files to Move Trial Over 2018 ‘Funding Secured’ Tweet to Texas
Elon Musk on Friday filed a motion to move his upcoming securities-fraud trial over his 2018 tweets about having “funding secured” to take Tesla private from San Francisco to Texas, where the company is now headquartered — reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Tesla CEO alleged that potential jury members in California have been biased by negative press surrounding his use and recent takeover of Twitter.
San Francisco’s jury pool has been “exposed to excessive and adverse pretrial publicity concerning Defendant Elon Musk that will deprive him of an impartial jury and his constitutional right to a fair trial,” attorneys for Musk wrote in the court filing.
Furthermore, Musk’s counsel claimed that the eccentric entrepreneur’s decision to lay off more than 50% of Twitter’s workforce, which included almost 1,000 employees based in San Francisco’s federal-court district, may have biased jurors “who were personally impacted or are close to those personally impacted” against Musk.
The subject of the San Francisco trial is a 2018 tweet from Musk about taking Tesla private. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured,” the Tesla CEO wrote in the tweet in question.
While Musk maintains that his tweet was “entirely truthful” and that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund had agreed to support him in taking Tesla private, the $72 billion deal never materialized.
Musk and Tesla as a company had to pay fines of $20 million USD each to settle a civil lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As part of the settlement, Musk also stepped down as chairman of Tesla and agreed to stringent oversight and regulation of his online activity.
Tesla investors sued Musk, alleging that his tweets were false and cost them billions by destabilizing the company’s stock price. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, who is overseeing the trial in San Francisco, last year ruled that Musk’s 2018 tweets were “false and misleading.”
Musk’s attorneys added in the court filing that the local press has accused Musk of “encouraging and personally participating in the purported spread of misinformation.”
The trial is slated to begin on January 17. Meanwhile, the presiding judge has scheduled a hearing on Musk’s motion to move the trial on January 13. If the court denies Musk’s request to move the trial’s location, his attorneys are asking for the proceedings to be delayed “to allow the passions and prejudice to fade.”