Solomon: Alec Baldwin formally indicted – here’s what the prosecution has to prove
Alec Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter by the Santa Fe County District Attorney.
For the family of slain cinematographer Galina Hutchins, today’s charges mark the end of a 15-month wait as Santa Fe authorities considered filing criminal charges against the actor and executive producer of Rust, which is – stunningly – set. to resume filming soon.
As reported here Earlier this month, Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reid, a gunsmith on set, were charged with two counts of manslaughter under Stat NM § 30-2-3 (2018).
The prosecution brought here a fourth-degree felony charge punishable by up to 18 months in prison. However, there is an additional mandatory fine because a firearm was involved. As a result, if the jury finds Baldwin guilty, the crime is punishable by a mandatory five years in prison.
In making these allegations, District Attorney Mary Carmack-Oltwis believes the state has a good chance of winning its case against Baldwin. Yet the burden of proof on the prosecution is greater here than most observers realize.
That burden falls entirely on the DA’s office and the prosecutor’s office handling the case, which may partly explain why it took so long between Hutchins’ death and the DA’s indictment today.
Baldwin’s defense acknowledges that Hutchins’ death was an extraordinary tragedy. But they are going to build a defense strategy based on the observance of all generally accepted security measures. They will argue that the people involved in filming and producing Rust followed best practices carefully to prevent such tragedies from happening.
As David Gelman, a criminal defense attorney, explained in an interview on Tuesday: “That could be too much of a hurdle for prosecution. For prosecutors to succeed on the most serious charges, they will have to prove to the jury beyond reasonable doubt that Alec Baldwin was not just negligent, but reckless.”
This is an interesting intersection of law and public opinion.
Will Baldwin be found guilty?
Yes: 100% (1 vote)
No: 0% (0 votes)
Many observers of the case over the past 15 months have stated that it was Baldwin’s recklessness that caused the death of the film’s cameraman. But there is a huge gulf that the prosecution will have to bridge between exploiting public opinion and proving in court the existence of this supposed recklessness. They have to prove that the precautions taken on the set of The Rust were markedly different from the precautions taken on the set of other films.
If the rumors are true, there were security checks between the gunsmith and other people in charge of safety on set, and those safety checks were actually enforced. If this is confirmed in court, Baldwin’s conviction on the most serious charges would be an unlikely end result.
Back in April CBS News reported that Rust Movie Productions LLC was fined over $136,000 by the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau. But while the agency’s report makes it clear that The Rust’s crew demonstrated “clear indifference to the recognized dangers associated with the use of firearms on set, resulting in deaths, serious injuries and unsafe working conditions,” the bar has been set. much higher for a criminal case than a fine or even civil lawsuits in which Baldwin is still involved.
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