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As Nikola Founder Milton Trial Starts Sept 12 Final Rulings on Meme Stocks & Junk Science

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book
BBC - Honduras - CIA Trial book - NY Mag

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 8 – Just after the indictment of electric vehicle maker Nikola's founder Trevor Milton was unsealed on July 29, 2021 a press conference was held in the Southern District of New York prosecutors' office. Inner City Press went and asked about the SEC complaint's reference to Milton targeting "Robinhood investors." Video here.

  On September 15, 2021 the assigned District Judge Edgardo Ramos held an oral argument. Milton wants to move the case to Utah or Arizona, with a sealed motion. (Manafort's lender Steve Calk asked the same, to move to Chicago, which was denied). On September 15 Inner City Press live tweeted here (and podcast here)

Jump cut to September 8, 2022: Inner City Press went to the US v. Milton final pre-trial conference, taking these notes:

Milton's motion for a bill of particulars denied. Motion to strike surplus-age acknowledged as moot by Mukasey, and withdrawn. Milton's motion for an evidentiary hearing on the government's filter team protocol is denied, as based on speculation. And finally, Milton's motion to dismiss Count 4 is denied.

On motions in limine: first the US' motions, to exclude Milton's expert Prof Kirkus [or Kirfus?] on automotive prototypes, battery technology, hydrogen fuel cell technology and relations between automakers and supplier, including parts.

Judge Ramos: These appear somewhat relevant. Why should I exclude them?

AUSA: These facts are not disputed. And there will be witnesses from Nikola.

Mukasey: It will not be as easy to get the information out of them. The case turns on the use of words by Mr. Milton. What does "build" mean? Prof Kirkus will say you can build a truck on a computer, not hammer and nails. The US is alleging vapor-ware.

Judge Ramos: I don't think a truck on a computer is a built truck.

Mukasey: You're reacting like a lay person. In this field, built can be on the computer. There's a design element.

Judge Ramos: What about hydrogen - is he an expert?

Mukasey: He knows more than a lay person.

Judge Ramos: Today's Daily is about how far we are away from rolling out these kind of vehicles nationwide. I'll defer on my decision on if he is necessary. If so, we can hold a Daubert hearing. Next, on the proposed financial expert, including social media as relates to Mr. Milton, and the effect of social media on investors.

AUSA Roos: Our expert will be speaking on social media, so the defense expert can too. But the defense has said that a company's stock performance is volatile, so investment is risky. Our concern is it gets close to victim-blaming.

Judge Ramos: But some investments ARE more risky that others. When we are shown a 401-K, we are shown a buffet of possible investments.

[As social media is discussed, Milton whips out his phone.]

AUSA Roos: Plus, we don't have discovery about these experts.

Milton's lawyer Bondy: When I speak with experts, I don't take notes. And we will not be victim-blaming.

AUSA Roos: With those assurance, we're OK with this expert as a witness.

Milton's 3d lawyer, Mr. Caruso: We are not running an advice of counsel defense. We are running a good faith defense. There's an email in which the general counsel tells Trevor Milton, Yes, you walked the line, apologies to Johnny Cash.

Judge Ramos: I'm sure the lawyers at these tables can walk the line. Motion denied as moot.

AUSA: We will have three or four investors as witnesses.

Mukasey: And we will be asking if they are reasonable investors.

AUSA: That just means, Using reasons. Not being, for example, a Goldman Sachs investor.

Judge Ramos: I am 
more on Patreon here.

Now just the logistics.

The case is US v. Milton, 21-cr-478 (Ramos)


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