A trial against Elon Musk opened in San Francisco on Tuesday with jury selection to decide whether the Tesla and Twitter boss authored a fraudulent tweet accused by investors in 2018.
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The case dates back to August 2018, when Elon Musk tweeted that he wanted to take Tesla private, saying he had the funds to do so at the time.
His messages had swayed the stock wildly for a few days.
“Plaintiffs allege that these tweets were factually incorrect and artificially influenced Tesla’s stock price and other securities,” Judge Edward Chen said for potential jurors.
On Friday, the judge refused to move the case to Texas, the American state where Elon Musk moved Tesla’s headquarters.
The defense argued that the multi-billionaire could not benefit from an impartial trial in San Francisco, where he bought Twitter in late October, and was widely criticized for his decisions, from the platform’s content moderation policy to mass layoffs.
“In recent months, local media has saturated this county with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” the attorneys said in a filing.
“The local press, contrary to their usual reporting (the social plans), held Mr Musk personally responsible for the job cuts and even accused him of breaking the law. Locally elected officials, including the mayor of San Francisco, attended protests against him,” they continued.
Edward Chen, on the other hand, estimated on Friday that an impartial jury could be constituted in the Californian city.
The trial is expected to last three weeks, and Elon Musk is on the witness list.
In a previous ruling on the case, the judge ruled that the famous 2018 tweet could be considered “false and misleading.”
The short messages from the Tesla boss have already brought him numerous arguments with the authorities.
The American stock market police officer SEC also filed a complaint at the time, believing that Elon Musk had not proven his financing.
The regulator then forced him to step down as chairman of Tesla’s board of directors, pay a $20 million fine, and then require his tweets that directly relate to Tesla’s business to be pre-approved by a competent attorney.
Elon Musk tried again in the spring to invalidate this decision, in vain.