Elon Musk’s request to move his upcoming securities fraud trial has been rejected by the judge. The trial, which is set to begin this Tuesday, stems from a lawsuit brought by Tesla shareholders who accuse the billionaire of making false statements in a tweet from 2018 about taking the electric vehicle company private.
The mercurial billionaire had argued that the jury pool from San Francisco would be biased against him due to his frequent activity on Twitter and the negative coverage of him that has arisen since his purchase of the social media platform. His lawyers argued that the negative sentiment about him in the Bay Area was so strong that he could not get a fair trial in the city.
Judge Edward Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California wasn’t swayed by this argument. He expressed confidence that an impartial jury could be chosen and noted that Musk still has “a lot of fans” in the Bay Area. The judge also dismissed the idea of moving the trial to Texas, where Musk lives and Tesla is now headquartered, noting that the case was filed while Tesla was still headquartered in California.
The Tesla shareholders have argued that none of the prospective jurors works for Twitter and that only two of them know someone who works at the company. They have also noted that Musk’s frequent activity on Twitter is partially to blame for the negative sentiment towards him.
If Musk is convicted, he could face more than 11 years in federal prison. The outcome of the trial could also have major implications for his career and the future of Tesla and his umbrella of companies.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s stock has lost nearly half its value since Musk took control of Twitter, partially due to investor concerns that he is spending too much time running the social media platform instead of focusing on the automaker.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today