Prospective jurors in a civil action against Elon Musk had a range of opinions of him, from “clever, successful” to “off his rocker”.
Mr Musk, who is being sued by Tesla shareholders who claim he manipulated the company’s share price, has stated that he will not be able to secure a fair trial in San Francisco.
He wanted the trial to be held in Texas, where he has relocated Tesla’s headquarters, but that request was denied.
After jurors completed a pre-trial questionnaire, a jury was chosen.
The issue revolves around his 2018 tweets in which he stated that he would take Tesla private. Because of the posts, US regulators ousted Mr Musk as Tesla chairman.
On August 7, 2018, he tweeted that he had “financing secured” to take the carmaker private in a $72 billion (£58.7 billion) buyout.
Musk claimed in a second tweet that “investor support is confirmed,” and that the purchase was only pending a shareholder vote. There was no such contract.
“The claim is that the investors felt that they were defrauded by Musk’s tweet, that he was considering taking Tesla private and critically, that he had funding secured for it,” Robert Bartlett, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Reuters.
“That turned out not to be the case. So when the stock price rose after the news, they allegedly bought, and then it collapsed when the truth came out. They claimed that that was fraud.”
The Tesla CEO, however, argued that he believed he had secured funding from Saudi Arabia’s Investment Fund, and did not commit securities fraud.
“I think he’s a little off his rocker, on a personal level,” one possible juror wrote on a questionnaire asking whether they could be impartial.
“I truly believe you can’t judge a person until you walk in their shoes,” said another possible juror, who added that Mr Musk seemed “narcissistic”.
Another person said Mr Musk had a “mercenary” personality because he’s “willing to take risks… that’s my image of him”.
Another called him a “fast-rising business man”, while yet another said he was a “smart, successful pioneer”.
“I think he is not a very likable person,” said one person, according to Yahoo.
When the judge inquired if she would be biased against him, the woman replied, “A lot of individuals are not always likable people…. sometimes I don’t like my husband.”
A jury of nine members was eventually chosen, and opening arguments are scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Mr Musk claimed that major layoffs at Twitter, which he purchased last year, affected many employees in the Californian city, making a fair trial impossible.
However, the judge said on Friday that the trial would take place in California.
If a jury in San Francisco judges in favor of the shareholders, Mr Musk might be ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages.
He has already paid the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) $20 million for the tweet, and Tesla must pay a further $20 million.
His tweet has become famous in Silicon Valley, demonstrating the overwhelming power of Twitter.
Legal experts believe Mr Musk’s challenge will be tough to win, and that the punishment he paid to the SEC will be used against him in the case. Jury trials in cases of fraud, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to predict.
Mr Musk may be called to testify under oath in the case. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and media magnate James Murdoch are among the witnesses. It is projected to last approximately three weeks.