Elon Musk says he can’t get a fair trial in California, he wants to in Texas

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to postpone a trial in a San Francisco shareholder lawsuit because he says negative local media coverage turned potential jurors against him.

Instead, in a filing filed late Friday night — less than two weeks before the start of the trial, which was due to begin on January 17 — Musk’s lawyers say it should go to federal court for the Western District of Texas. The area includes the state capital of Austin, where Musk relocated his electric vehicle company Tesla in late 2021.

The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk’s tweets in August 2018 when he said he had enough funding to buy Tesla back at $420 a share — an announcement that caused massive volatility in Tesla’s share price.

Last spring, when shareholders prevailed, Judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk’s tweets were false and reckless.

If rescheduling the lawsuit is not possible, Musk’s lawyers want it to be delayed until the negative publicity regarding the Twitter billionaire’s purchase subsides.

“Over the past few months, the local media has filled the area with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” lawyer Alex Spiro wrote in a court document. In the news, Musk is personally blamed for the recent Twitter layoffs, writes Spiro, and alleges that the job cuts may even have violated laws.

Attorneys for shareholders emphasized that the request came at the last minute, saying: “Musk’s fears are unfounded and his petition is baseless.”

“The Northern District of California is the right place for this lawsuit, and it has been under active consideration for over four years,” lawyer Nicholas Porritt wrote in an email.

The statement from Musk’s lawyers also notes that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 residents in the San Francisco area since it bought the company in late October.

“A significant portion of the jury … is likely to have a personal and financial bias against Mr. Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies, as individual potential jurors – or their friends and relatives – may have been personally affected,” it says. in the message.

Musk has also come under fire from the mayor of San Francisco and other local officials for cutting jobs, the statement said.

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