H. Peter Haveles, Jr., a partner in the Trial and Dispute Resolution Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton, was quoted in the February 26, 2019 Business Insider article, "Elon Musk Could Face Everything from a Fine to a Suspension for His Latest Fight with One of His Biggest Enemies."
Peter Haveles, a lawyer and partner at Pepper Hamilton in New York, said a fine and a strong reprimand is the likeliest outcome if Musk is found to be in contempt of court.
"Tellingly, the SEC's motion paper did not describe what sanction it was seeking from the judge, so they're leaving some flexibility here," he added.
He agreed with Haveles that a fine is the more likely outcome, as booting Musk from the top position could adversely affect Tesla's shareholders. "It's a tough situation because Musk is Tesla and they need him," he said.
The SEC rejected this in its filing, saying it was "not credible." Quinn, Haveles, and Lutzker agreed that it's not the strongest line of defense.
"The purpose of the order is to put in some supervision and pre-clearance... So whether or not for the moment his statements were accurate or not, he consciously did not follow the rules," Haveles said.
Haveles and Quinn agreed that the information in his tweet was potent enough to move the market. Haveles said Musk was lucky the pronouncement was made outside of trading hours.
"He tweets whenever he gets the urge, so I think it was fortuitous but not deliberate on his part that he did it in the middle of the night," said Haveles.
He added that the tweet's timing does mitigate against the potential harm it could have caused, "but it doesn't change the fact that he did engage in misconduct."
Haveles said there will be a procedural hearing, which will involve lawyers from Tesla and the SEC arguing it out in front of Judge Alison Nathan, who approved the original settlement. But if Judge Nathan deems it necessary, she could demand an evidentiary hearing, forcing Musk to testify in person.
Haveles, who has been in the courtroom with Nathan multiple times, said she is not to be messed with. "She is known for being fair-minded, but she is also tough and if she thinks you are playing games with her or misleading her, she will be very sharp in pointing that out to you," he said.