The selection of jurors started in a San Francisco federal courtroom and the trial is expected to last three weeks. The new Twitter boss is expected to be among those called to testify.
The case dates back to August 2018 when Musk tweeted: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” This caused a whirlwind in the company’s share price — swinging about $14 billion over the 10-day period. Musk is being sued by shareholders who say the 51-year-old acted recklessly and cost them billions of dollars.
In a second tweet, Musk added that “investor support is confirmed,” and that the deal was only awaiting a vote by shareholders.
“The plaintiff alleges that these tweets were materially false and artificially affected the price of Tesla stock and other securities after they were made,” US District Court Judge Edward Chen said.
The Tesla CEO, however, argued that he believed he had secured funding from Saudi Arabia’s Investment Fund. He also stressed that he did not commit securities fraud.
Musk had wanted the trial to be moved to Texas, arguing a fair jury would not be possible in San Francisco, where Twitter is based.
On Tuesday, the court reviewed the responses from dozens of potential jurors to a questionnaire, which included their opinions about Musk.
“I think he’s a little off his rocker, on a personal level,” one possible juror wrote.
“I truly believe you can’t judge a person until you walk in their shoes,” said another possible juror, who added that Musk seemed “narcissistic.”
Alex Spiro, Musk’s lawyer, asked those up for jury selection to remain “open-minded.” He also asked the court to not bring up “recent events at Twitter.”
After buying Twitter in October, Musk fired more than half of its 7,500 employees and unblocked several accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump.
“For the last several months, the local media have saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk that have fostered… highly prejudicial biases in the jury pool,” the CEO’s lawyers argued in a filing.