Actor Alec Baldwin won’t need to worry about at least one of his “Rust” civil lawsuits, which has been postponed amid his criminal trial.
At the end of January 2023, the “30 Rock” actor was officially charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal October 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
“Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is also facing two charges of involuntary manslaughter while first assistant director David Halls pled guilty to the charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Alec Baldwin’s Negligence Civil Case Paused Pending ‘Rust’ Criminal Trial
On Wednesday, a Los Angeles Superior Judge paused one of the civil cases against Alec Baldwin (via Deadline). Script supervisor Mamie Mitchell filed a negligence lawsuit against Alec Baldwin, “Rust” producers, and several other parties.
However, pending his criminal trial, an L.A. judge paused the lawsuit and lifted any self-incrimination risk for Baldwin until next year, when the trial is expected to be over.
In the court filing, LASC Judge Michael E. Whitaker declared, “The trial date be continued from May 17, 2023, to February 21, 2024, or as soon thereafter in accordance with the Court’s calendar and availability.”
“The Parties believe a continuance of the trial and all related dates serves the interests of all parties by allowing the parties to maximize good faith settlement negotiations and complete discovery,” the order continued, hinting at the possibility of a settlement in the future.
Alec Baldwin & Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Are Due In Court On Thursday
This order comes a day before both Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are expected to appear in court for a virtual hearing on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Baldwin’s legal team, Gutierrez-Reed’s legal team, and Santa Fe District Mary Carmack-Altwies will all be in attendance at tomorrow’s hearing, which is expected to schedule a preliminary hearing date.
It’s possible that Baldwin’s motion to disqualify special prosecutor Andrea Reeb could also be scheduled on Thursday as well. With Baldwin scheduled to resume filming “Rust” in Montana sometime this spring, it could be several months before the trial actually begins.
Alec Baldwin filed his not guilty plea on February 23. He and Gutierrez-Reed are facing 18 months behind bars if convicted along with a $5,000 fine.
He recently got a firearm enhancement statute removed from his charges, which would have carried a five-year mandatory prison sentence had he been convicted.
Firearm Enhancement Charges Dropped Against Baldwin & Hannah Gutierrez-Reed
The firearm enhancement statute was not put into law until seven months until after Halyna Hutchins was killed, which led Baldwin’s legal team to claim that the charges were unconstitutional.
According to the legal documents filed by Baldwin’s team, via Deadline, “The prosecutors in this case have committed an unconstitutional and elementary legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a statute that did not exist on the date of the accident.”
The papers go on to say, “It thus appears that the government intended to charge the current version of the firearm enhancement statute, which was not enacted until May 18, 2022, seven months after the accident.”
“Accordingly, that enhancement should not be bound over,” the legal documents state. “Application of the current version of the statute would be unconstitutionally retroactive, and the government has no legitimate basis to charge Mr. Baldwin under the version of the statute that existed at the time of the accident.”
Santa Fe D.A. Slams ‘Celebrities With Fancy Attorneys’ After Removing ‘Rust’ Firearm Enhancement Charge
At first, the Santa Fe District Attorney seemed resistant to drop the charge. Spokesperson Heather Brewer argued, “The District Attorney and special prosecutor are actively reviewing all applicable laws to ensure they have the strongest case to secure justice for Halyna Hutchins.”
However, they later dropped the firearm enhancement charge while taking aim at Baldwin. “Another day, another motion from Alec Baldwin and his attorneys in an attempt to distract from the gross negligence and complete disregard for safety on the Rust film set that led to Halyna Hutchins’ death,” Brewer said.
“In accordance with good legal practice, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor will review all motions–even those given to the media before being served to the DA,” Brewer added.
“However, the DA’s and the special prosecutor’s focus will always remain on ensuring that justice is served and that everyone–even celebrities with fancy attorneys–is held accountable under the law.”