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)
It adds that Reeb 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.’
He adds: ‘The legal question is not a close one, she must be disqualified.’
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.
The motion added 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.’
Harper was quoted in a local news outlet.
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.
Baldwin has already reached a settlement with the family of Hutchins prompting them to drop the ‘wrongful death lawsuit’ against the actor, production houses, producers and other crew members.