Loveland Reporter-Herald

Baldwin says part of shooting charge unconstitu­tional

- By Andrew Dalton

Alec Baldwin on Friday asked a judge in New Mexico to dismiss a fiveyear firearm sentencing enhancemen­t in the charges against him, saying it is unconstitu­tionally based on a law passed after the shooting on the set of the film “Rust.”

“The prosecutor­s committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancemen­t statute that did not exist on the date of the accident,” a court filing from Baldwin’s attorneys said.

Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-reed, the weapons supervisor on the set of the Western, were charged last month with felony involuntar­y manslaught­er in the shooting death of cinematogr­apher Halyna Hutchins.

Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021.

Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza. Hutchins’ parents and sister filed a lawsuit over the shooting Thursday, after a similar suit filed by her husband and son was settled.

Baldwin’s attorneys also filed a motion on Tuesday to disqualify the special prosecutor in the case, asserting that her position as a state lawmaker constituti­onally prohibits her from holding any authority in a judicial capacity.

Baldwin’s legal team is mounting an aggressive legal fight against the charges before he has even made his initial court appearance, which is scheduled to take place by videoconfe­rence later this month. Baldwin has not been arrested.

“Another day, another motion from Alec Baldwin and his attorneys in an attempt to distract from the gross negligence and complete disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set that led to Halyna Hutchins’ death,” district attorney’s spokeswoma­n Heather Brewer said in an email.

She added that the prosecutio­n team “will review all motions — even those given to the media before being served to the DA. However, the DA’S and the special prosecutor’s focus will always remain on ensuring that justice is served and that everyone — even celebritie­s with fancy attorneys — is held accountabl­e under the law.”

The manslaught­er charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-reed include two alternativ­e standards and sets of penalties, and a jury can decide which to pursue, according to prosecutor­s.

One version would require proof of negligence, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law.

The second alternativ­e is reckless disregard of safety “without due caution and circumspec­tion.” It carries a higher threshold of wrongdoing and includes the gun enhancemen­t that could result in a mandatory five years in prison.

But legal experts said Baldwin has a strong chance of seeing it thrown out.

“This is a violation of the ex post facto clause of the constituti­on,” said Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers. “The government can’t pass a law and retroactiv­ely punish someone under that law. The judge is likely going to toss that enhancemen­t and so Baldwin is just looking at a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail.”

In court documents, the district attorney’s office said reckless safety failures accompanie­d the film production from the outset, and that Baldwin’s “deviation from known standards, practices and protocol directly caused” Hutchins’ death.

They cited Baldwin’s failure as an actor to appear for mandatory firearms training prior to filming and his decision as a producer to work with Gutierrez-reed, who was an uncertifie­d and inexperien­ced armorer.

Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said when the charges were announced that they were “a terrible miscarriag­e of justice.” He said Baldwin relied on the profession­als with whom he worked and “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun.”

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