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

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WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to move a shareholder lawsuit from San Francisco, saying negative coverage in the local media has biased potential jurors against him.

Instead, in a filing filed late Friday — less than two weeks before the trial was due to begin on Jan. 17 — Musk’s lawyers 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 relocated his electric car company, Tesla, in late 2021.

If a move is not possible, Musk’s lawyers want the process postponed until there is negative publicity about the purchase. Twitter is deceased.

“In recent months, the local media has infused this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in a lawsuit. Those items have personally blamed Musk for recent layoffs at Twitter, Spiro wrote, and have argued that the job cuts may even violate laws.

The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk’s tweets in August 2018 when he said he had enough funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share, an announcement that created major volatility in Tesla’s stock price.

Shareholders’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

His lawyers’ filing also says that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 San Francisco area residents since buying the company in late October.

“A substantial portion of the juror pool … is likely to have a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk due to recent layoffs at one of his companies, as individual would-be jurors — or their friends and relatives — may have been personally affected,” said the filing.

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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