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A lawyer representing actor Alec Baldwin, who was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter last week in the 2021 gun death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his movie Rust, moved Tuesday to disqualify a special prosecutor in the case, saying her appointment was “unconstitutional” because she serves as a state legislator.
In papers obtained by Forbes, attorney Luke Nikas wrote that special prosecutor Andrea Reeb should be disqualified “from further participation in this case” because she is a member of the New Mexico state House of Representatives.
Section 1 of Article III of the New Mexico’s constitution states a member of the Legislature may not “exercise any powers properly belonging” to the executive or judicial branch, according to the filing.
In working as a special prosecutor, “Representative Reeb is vested by statute with ‘all the powers and duties’ of a District Attorney,” who has both executive and judicial powers, and “must be disqualified.”
The local district attorney appointed Reeb as a special prosecutor in August to “expedite” the case review process, after Reeb had received the Republican nomination for her state House seat, which she ultimately won, according to the filing.
Baldwin is not making a political argument about Reeb’s appointment, even though she is a Republican and he is a Democrat known for playing former President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.
Baldwin and his lawyers “can use whatever tactics they want to distract from the fact that Halyna Hutchins died because of more than mere negligence on the ‘Rust’ film set,” a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office told Forbes, adding that Reeb and District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies “will remain focused on the evidence and on trying this case so that justice is served.”
Hutchins was killed on October 21, 2021 when a gun in Baldwin’s hand discharged. Hutchins was shot with live ammunition, which was not supposed to be present anywhere on set. Baldwin has said he believed the gun was safe to use, and claimed he did not pull the gun’s trigger, though prosecutors said photos and videos showed him “several times” with his finger on the trigger and inside the trigger guard.
Carmack-Altwies and Reeb announced charges against Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed—who was responsible for guns on set—in January, and the pair were formally charged last week. Assistant director Dave Halls, who was in charge of on-set safety, agreed to plead guilty to a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. In a probable cause document, the prosecutors alleged Baldwin should have known standard weapons safety measures were not being followed on set and should have demanded they be, and said Baldwin was distracted on his phone during the minimal weapons training he received and that he shouldn’t have pointed a gun at someone directly, even though he was instructed to do so. The probable cause document for Gutierrez-Reed accused her of being inexperienced for the job of armorer, and said she was repeatedly negligent and reckless. Neither have pleaded in the case, but a lawyer for Baldwin has said they plan to fight the charges in court, and attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed said she “did not commit involuntary manslaughter.”
What To Watch For
Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed and Halls will appear in court for the first time remotely on February 24.
Alec Baldwin Formally Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter In ‘Rust’ Shooting (Forbes)
Alec Baldwin To Be Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter Over ‘Rust’ Shooting (Forbes)