Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Andrew Dalton

Alec Baldwin says part of shooting charge unconstitutional


Alec Baldwin on Friday asked a judge in New Mexico to dismiss a five-year 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 aggressively pushing back 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.

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.”

A message seeking comment from prosecutors on the motion was not immediately returned.

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.”


Associated Press writers Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contributed to this report.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.