Alec Baldwin asked a judge to disqualify the special prosecutor in charge of the 'Rust' case, saying her being a state representative makes her appointment 'unconstitutional'
Alec Baldwin's lawyer has asked a judge to disqualify the prosecuting attorney in the "Rust" case.
The lawyer argues that the prosecutor's simultaneous role as a state lawmaker is unconstitutional.
Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Alec Baldwin's lawyers have asked a judge to disqualify the special prosecutor in charge of the "Rust" case, saying the fact that she's a state representative makes her appointment "unconstitutional," according to court documents filed on Tuesday.
Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor leading the involuntary manslaughter case against Baldwin, is a current member of the New Mexico House of Representatives. According to the New Mexico constitution, a state lawmaker cannot exercise powers in the judicial or executive branch and the legislative branch at the same time, Baldwin's attorneys explain in the filing.
Because of that constitutional provision, Baldwin's team argues Reeb must be disqualified from the case because she cannot serve both as a lawmaker and as a prosecuting attorney.
"As a special prosecutor, Representative Reeb is vested by statute with 'all the powers and duties' of a District Attorney, who is considered a member of either the judicial or executive branch of the New Mexico government," Baldwin's lawyers said in the court filing. "Representative Reeb is therefore exercising either the executive power or the judicial power, and her continued service as a special prosecutor is unconstitutional. She must be disqualified."
A spokesperson for the First Judicial District Attorney's Office told Insider on Tuesday that 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 district attorney and the special prosecutor will remain focused on the evidence and on trying this case so that justice is served," Heather Brewer, the spokesperson, said.
Baldwin's lawyers argue that "allowing a single person to exercise both legislative and prosecutorial power could taint prosecutorial decision-making" because the prosecutor could be pressured to make decisions in the case that would "serve her legislative interests."
Reeb was the District Attorney for New Mexico's Ninth Judicial District before stepping down last year and running for a seat in the state's House of Representatives.
Reeb was brought on as a special prosecutor to lead the "Rust" investigation being carried out in New Mexico's First Judicial District after she secured the Republican nomination in her race. Reeb went on to win a seat in the New Mexico House and assumed her office on January 1. Less than a month later, the DA for the First Judicial District filed involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on set, for the death of Halyna Hutchins.
Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Insider that it's "abnormal" for a lawmaker to serve as a prosecutor and that Baldwin has a "very good chance" of getting her booted from the case.
Even if he loses this motion and is eventually convicted, Baldwin could raise this issue again on appeal, Rahmani said.
Rachel Fiset, co-founder and managing partner of Los Angeles-based Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo LLP told Insider that she's never heard of a member of a state legislature stepping in as a special prosecutor and it "makes me wonder about the political aspirations of the district attorney and the special prosecutor and how politics could taint this case."
"The motion is a reminder that this could be a very political prosecution. Baldwin's attorneys are keeping that question at the forefront of the judge's mind as they begin the case. Even if the judge rules against disqualifying the special prosecutor, it brings to light the potential political nature of this whole case," Fiset said.
Baldwin was practicing a scene on the set of the Western film "Rust" when a gun accidentally discharged and fatally struck Hutchins, the film's cinematographer, in October 2021. The film's director, Joel Souza, was also injured in the incident, which was ruled an accident by state investigators.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face up to five years in jail if convicted on the most serious of the two manslaughter charges filed against them.
Baldwin maintains he didn't know the weapon had a live round in it and that he didn't pull the trigger. But an FBI report found that the firearm couldn't have fired without the trigger being engaged.
Early reports on the tragic accident focused on Gutierrez-Reed, who was a newcomer to the industry and was the source of complaints on the set of a previous film. Gutierrez-Reed filed a lawsuit against one of the film's prop suppliers last year, alleging they sent live rounds mixed in with dummy rounds to the set. The owner of the prop company has denied that claim.
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