Alec Baldwin’s legal team is making their first big move after the actor was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
In court documents obtained by ET on Tuesday, Baldwin is asking the court to remove Andrea Reeb as special prosecutor in the “Rust” case.
According to the argument, the objection is due to the fact that Reeb is a current member of the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Baldwin’s lawyers argue that Reeb, a Republican representative, cannot hold the title of a state lawmaker and that of special prosecutor, because the state constitution’s separation of powers provision prohibits her from serving as a prosecutor and as a state lawmaker.
“Doing so vests two core powers of different branches — legislating and prosecuting — in the same person,” the motion argues, “and is thus barred by the plain language of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution.”
The motion further argues that, should this arrangement be allowed, “Future District Attorneys could seek to curry favor with legislators who control their budgets by appointing them to high-profile cases” and this would lead to “distorting the legislative process.”
“At the same time, allowing a single person to exercise both legislative and prosecutorial power could taint prosecutorial decision-making,” the motion argues. “A prosecutor who also serves as a legislator could face pressure to make prosecutorial decisions that serve her legislative interests, such as by prosecuting a prominent defendant associated with an opposing faction within the Legislature even in the face of conflicting evidence or law.”
Reeb was first brought onto the case last year by the First Judicial District Attorney in Santa Fe, Mary Carmack-Altwies. She was then elected onto the state House of Representatives in November.
In response to the motion, the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office released a statement to Variety calling the filing an effort to distract from the charges themselves.
“Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys can use whatever tactics they want to distract from the fact that Halyna Hutchins died because of gross negligence and a reckless disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set,” the statement claimed. “However, the district attorney and the special prosecutor will remain focused on the evidence and on trying this case so that justice is served.”
In a statement released by Carmack-Altwies and Reeb last month, it was announced that charges were filed against Baldwin after the gun he was holding discharged, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza on the Western film set in New Mexico.
‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative” with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.
The first charge is referred to as involuntary manslaughter. For this charge to be proved, there must be underlying negligence. This also includes a misdemeanour charge for negligent use of a firearm. Under New Mexico law, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony and is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The other charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act. This charge requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death. This is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. This charge includes a firearm enhancement, or added mandatory penalty, because a firearm was involved. The firearm enhancement makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.
As for David Halls, the film’s assistant director, he has signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. The terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
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