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

Washington — WASHINGTON (AP) – Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to move the trial in a shareholder lawsuit outside San Francisco because he says negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him.

Instead, in a filing submitted late Friday — less than two weeks before the trial is scheduled to begin on January 17 — Musk’s attorneys argue that the trial should be moved to federal court in the Western District of Texas. That district includes the state capital of Austin, where Musk has moved his electric car company Tesla in late 2021.

If a move is not possible, Musk’s lawyers want the trial to be postponed until the negative publicity regarding Musk’s purchase of Twitter subsides.

“For the past 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, Spiro wrote, have blamed Musk personally for the recent layoffs on Twitter, and alleged that the job cuts may also violate laws.

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

Lawyers for the shareholders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

The filing by his lawyers also noted that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 residents in the San Francisco area since purchasing the company in late October.

“A substantial portion of the jury pool … is likely to have a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk, as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies that resulted in individual potential jurors – or their friends and relatives – personally may be affected,” the filing said.

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

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