Alec Baldwin calls prosecution ‘abuse of the system’ in motion for dismissal

Posted at 11:35 AM, March 15, 2024

SANTA FE, N.M. (Court TV) — Actor Alec Baldwin is accusing prosecutors of “violating nearly every rule in the book” in their effort to charge him in the deadly shooting on the set of his movie ‘Rust.’

Alec Baldwin attends the Roundabout Theatre Company's annual gala

Alec Baldwin attends the Roundabout Theatre Company’s annual gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on Monday, March 6, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

In Jan., Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter following an indictment by a grand jury. This was the second time charges were filed against him after the initial charges were dropped months prior.

The fatal shooting on Oct. 21, 2021, at the Bonanza Creek Ranch killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. Hannah Gutierrez, the armorer on set, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last week and will be sentenced in April.

Baldwin has maintained his innocence, saying that he was told he was handed a “prop gun” loaded with inert dummy rounds. He cooperated with the investigation at the scene, sitting for an hour-long interview and offering his phone to investigators. But the motion for dismissal does not focus on his behaviors but those of the prosecution, which Baldwin’s attorneys had accused of attempting to circumvent justice by manipulating the grand jury.

The motion accuses the State of several unethical behaviors, including alerting the media to the decision to file charges before telling Baldwin or his attorneys, using the charges for political gain, and going on a “viral press tour to tell the world that Baldwin was guilty and faced a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence.”

“The state’s unethical disparagement of Alec Baldwin was a sign of things to come.”

The initial charges against Baldwin were dismissed after the District Attorney and special prosecutor appointed to the case were forced to resign. But when the new special prosecutors assigned to the case, Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, decided to move forward and present the case to another grand jury, Baldwin’s attorneys have said they broke the rules in their grand jury presentation.

Before the grand jury was seated, there had been concerns about releasing information regarding the process. In fact, the Court noted that the clerk had a member of the grand jury inquire whether they could sit on the panel that would be hearing Baldwin’s case. As a result, the Court imposed an order designed to prevent the parties from speaking. “Within one hour, however, Morrissey violated the Court’s order by disclosing the content of that hearing to the press — including the new grand jury date — even after the court admonished her about the serious prejudice that could arise out of precisely that disclosure. Baldwin, therefore, filed a sanctions and contempt motion, which prompted Morrissey to violate the Court’s order a second time because she also disclosed the contents of that motion to the press.”

Alec Baldwin in costume

FILE – In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Alec Baldwin stands in costume and speaks with investigators following a fatal shooting in 2021 on a movie set in Santa Fe, N.M. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

The motion also accuses prosecutors of defying a court order to present “significant exculpatory and favorable witnesses and documents” that Baldwin had given them prior to the grand jury presentation.

“The State prosecutors have engaged in this misconduct — and publicly dragged Baldwin through the cesspool crated by their improprieties — without any regard for the fact that serious criminal charges have been hanging over his head for two and a half years. Enough is enough. This is an abuse of the system, and an abuse of an innocent person whose rights have been trampled to the extreme.”

Baldwin’s motion also cites “a report from the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau that demonstrates Baldwin was not part of Rust management and that his authority on set was limited to creative decisions.” This is an important distinction because Alec Baldwin also served as a producer of the film, and there have been questions about how much control he wielded on the set.

Baldwin’s attorneys point to the prosecution’s own words as part of their argument, quoting Morrissey’s closing argument at Gutierrez’s trial, where she said that Gutierrez “is the autonomous decision maker with regard to gun safety” and that it was Gutierrez who was responsible for Hutchins’ death because “it was foreseeable that Baldwin would not check the gun.” Attorneys also noted that after the verdict, one of the jurors said their decision was “based on the fact that it was [Gutierrez’s] job to check those rounds and firearms.”

No hearing has been scheduled for the motion.