Alec Baldwin wants the special prosecutor in his involuntary manslaughter case removed. In Tuesday’s new filing, the actor claims Andrea Reeb’s status as a Republican lawmaker in the New Mexico House of Representatives is “unconstitutional” — and one legal expert says he has a point. Baldwin was formally charged last week in the fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.
“The question is not a close one,” the motion declares. “She must be disqualified.”
According to the filing obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, Baldwin — who is known for his liberal views — avoided claiming politics are at play behind the decision to file criminal charges. The motion to disqualify, filed by his attorney Luke Nikas, lays out a constitutional argument.
“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,” the document reads. “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… Representative Reeb is therefore exercising either the executive power or the judicial power, and her continued service as a special prosecutor is unconstitutional.”
Reeb, who was appointed by the District Attorney to the case, previously said Baldwin, Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and first assistant director, David Halls are responsible for Hutchins’s death.
“If any one of these three people… had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” she declared last month. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the Rust film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
The New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney calls Baldwin’s new motion a distraction.
“Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys can use whatever tactics they want to distract from the fact that Halyna Hutchins died because of more than mere negligence on the Rust film set. However, the district attorney and the special prosecutor will remain focused on the evidence and on trying this case so that justice is served,” spokesperson, Heather Brewer, tells Yahoo.
However, high-powered criminal defense attorney Michel Huff thinks Baldwin’s motion may be granted.
“Because separation of powers is one of the bedrocks of our democracy, the New Mexico Constitution expressly forbids an individual from serving in more than one branch of government,” he explains to Yahoo.
“As Baldwin argues, allowing a sitting legislator to also act as a prosecutor, essentially enforcing the very laws which she passed, would be an unconstitutional violation of this separation of powers,” Huff continues. “Thus, while this is an issue that has not previously been addressed by a New Mexico court, other states have found a constitutional violation under similar circumstances, and I would expect the Court to side with Baldwin on this issue.”
Baldwin is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He faces up to five years behind bars if he’s found guilty of the most serious offense.