H. Peter Haveles, Jr., a partner in the Trial and Dispute Resolution Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton, was quoted in the March 8, 2019 Los Angeles Times article, "The Elon Musk Circus Is About to Enter a New Arena: Federal Court."
Because business executives charged by the SEC tend to follow court orders, there aren’t many contempt cases to serve as precedent, said Peter Haveles, attorney and financial law specialist at law firm Pepper Hamilton. “If they thumb their nose at the SEC, they are undercutting their ability to engage in business in the future.”
Experts in securities law point out that, in this case, the judge will be guided by civil, not criminal, contempt procedures. Criminal contempt usually ends in punishment. “The point of civil contempt is to ensure compliance and to deter disregarding the order,” attorney Haveles said.
Musk’s culpability on the charge seems pretty clear to Haveles: “The SEC will say, however trivial [the tweet], he didn’t follow the order and didn’t respect the court. I think the judge will agree and find him in contempt. That’s the easy part.”
“There needs to be enough of a disincentive that Musk won’t do it again,” Haveles said. “I think there will be a fine and a stern warning,” and the judge will say, “I don’t want to have this back in my courtroom again, because next time I will be much harsher.”