Alec Baldwin asks court to DISQUALIFY special prosecutor assigned to involuntary manslaughter case
Alec Baldwin has demanded the special prosecutor assigned to his involuntary manslaughter case be disqualified due to her status as a Republican lawmaker.
Baldwin, who faces up to five years in jail if convicted in the highly publicized trial, said the appointment of Andrea Reeb was ‘unconstitutional’ as she serves in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
A motion to the court filed on behalf of the Hollywood star – a Democrat and vocal Donald Trump critic – says she ‘must’ be taken off the case.
Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after being handed a gun with live ammunition on the set of his film Rust in October 2021.
Reeb, a Republican, kicked off the prosecution sensationally last month, flatly declaring that if not for the actions of Baldwin and others on set ‘Hutchins would be alive today.’
Now Baldwin’s team alleges Reeb’s appointment is a violation of New Mexico’s constitution which prohibits the mixing of two branches of government.
Alec Baldwin and the film´s armorer face two charges of involuntary manslaughter stemming from the incident in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Santa Fe County Sheriff´s Office/PA)
Baldwin’s team has moved to disqualify special prosecutor Andrea Reeb, pictured, claiming her appointment is ‘unconstitutional’
It adds that she could face ‘pressure’ to make a decision that serves her ‘legislative interests’.
The argument is a constitutional one and not politically motivated, his team said.
‘Under Section 1 of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution, however, a sitting member of the Legislature may not ‘exercise any powers properly belonging’ to either the executive or judicial branch,’ Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said in the motion.
‘As a special prosecutor, Representative Reeb is vested by statute with ‘all the powers and duties’ of a District Attorney, who is considered to be a member of either the judicial or executive branch of the New Mexico government.
‘The legal question is not a close one, she must be disqualified.’
Reeb was elected to the New Mexico representative house in November 2022, taking up the role at the start of this year
Baldwin is scheduled to make his first court appearance over the case on February 24.
Reeb was elected as district attorney in Mexico in 2014 before being elected to the New Mexico representative house in November 2022.
She took up the role at the start of this year.
Hutchins’ October 19, 2021 Instagram post showed cast members and staffers, including Baldwin alongside Hutchins herself and armorer Gutierrez-Reed (circled left to right) on the set of Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico
She was also asked to act as a special prosecutor which involves working independently in a criminal investigation and identifying potential conflicts of interest and facilitating expertise.
Last month she denied her prosecutorial decisions were not impacted by politics.
‘Everybody’s equal under the law. It doesn’t matter if he’s a liberal Democrat and I’m a conservative Republican,’ she told CNN.
‘My job has always been to prosecute crimes and hold defendants accountable and help victims. In this case it’s no different.’
But the motion filed by Baldwin’s team argues that the high public interest in the case as well as Reeb’s political platform could skew her objectivity.
‘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,’ it says.
‘And even if she does not allow her legislative interests to influence her prosecutorial choices, the perception of bias could diminish public confidence in the fairness of the criminal process.’
It also said it would set an alarming precedent in the criminal courts as future District Attorneys could seek to ‘curry favor’ with legislators – who control their budgets – by appointing them to high-profile cases.
In a footnote, Baldwin referenced a New Mexico lawmaker, Jason Harper, who called the charges against him a ‘frivolous use of tax dollars and a waste of time.’
Hutchins was the cinematography director of the film and is shown here on her Instagram page
The same footnote raises other criticism of the case, like the actors’ union calling it ‘wrong and uninformed’. A CNN legal analyst added it was ‘ill-advised.’
Baldwin is facing charges over Hutchins’ death alongside armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who faced identical charges, and assistant director David Halls, who pleaded down to negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Prosecution attorneys had previously alleged that Baldwin’s ‘reckless deviation from known standards and practice and protocol’ directly caused the fatal incident.
It is alleged the actor showed ‘willful disregard’ for the safety of others on set in New Mexico.
Baldwin was not present for ‘mandatory’ firearms training, instead undergoing a 30-minute on-set session, during which he was distracted by a phone call to his family, the DA said.