Alec Baldwin has one less Rust trial to worry about, for now.
Facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico for the October 2021 fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, the actor has gotten a bit of breathing room in the California courts.
Responding to a petition from lawyers for Baldwin, Rust producers and other defendants and plaintiff Maime Mitchell in the script supervisor’s negligence lawsuit, a L.A. Superior Court judge has paused the civil case and lifted any self-incrimination risk for the actor until next year a.k.a. after the expected criminal trial in the Land of Enchantment in over. “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,” an order inked yesterday by LASC Judge Michael E. Whitaker declared (read it here).
Alec Baldwin & 'Rust' Producers Slapped For "Negligent & Reckless Conduct" In Latest Suit From Crew Members; Claim Actor Pulled Trigger On Gun That Killed Halyna Hutchins
“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,” said the order, hinting at a possible settlement down the line.
Regardless of any deal or not, this kind of stay is a standard move in instances of over-lapping criminal and civil cases, as Bill Cosby and Danny Masterson have found in recent rape trials and tribulations of their own. The order by Judge Whitaker comes as Baldwin and his involuntary manslaughter co-defendant Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are expect before New Mexico state Judge Mary Marlow Sommer tomorrow in a virtual status conference/hearing in the criminal case. With lawyers for all parties, plus Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies in attendance too, the hearing is anticipated to lay down a preliminary hearing date in the matter. A date for Baldwin’s motion to disqualify special prosecutor and GOP state legislator Andrea Reeb could also be put on the calendar on Thursday.
With all that, and a resurrected Rust supposedly set to start filming anytime soon in Montana, it could be some time before Baldwin and Reed actually go to trial. Now facing 18 months behind bars and some fines for the death of Hutchins, the duo could still try to cut a deal of some sort with the D.A. like first assistant director David Halls did.
Mere weeks after Hutchins’ killing on October 21, 2021, Baldwin sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos for a prime time interview where he insisted he “didn’t pull the trigger” on the loaded un that killed the crew member. Baldwin’s assertion was not backed up by the FBI in its analysis of the tragedy and the gun itself, as detailed in a 551-page report released publicly by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office in November 2022. Add that and further shredding Baldwin’s credibility, D.A. Carmack-Altwies has claimed in the formal charges delivered on January 31 that Baldwin was absent and neglectful of vital firearms and safety training on Rust.
Having entered a plea of not guilty in the criminal case February 23, Baldwin had a big win last month when a firearm enhancement statute that carried a five-year mandatory sentence was dropped by the Santa Fe D.A. after defense teams’ cries of unconstitutionality.
Still, in a case that will be no easy effort for prosecutors, no one yet determined how rounds of live ammunition got on the Rust set
To that point and one of the first of a series of suits now before the courts in the Golden State and in New Mexico, the Gloria Allred represented Mitchell filed her lawsuit against Baldwin, the indie Western producers, Reed, Halls, property master Sarah Zachry, and others on November 17, 2021.
Mitchell was almost right next to Hutchins and Rust director Joel Souza in the Bonanza Creek Ranch church set when the 1880s prop gun Baldwin was pointing at the DoP in a rehearsal fired. Early in November 2022, Judge Whitaker scorned Baldwin’s attempt to get out of the lawsuit. He also denied a motion from Baldwin and his El Dorado Pictures Inc to strike the script supervisor’s claim for punitive damages. In response, Baldwin on November 11, 2022 hit back with a cross-complaint for negligence and indemnification against Reed, Halls, Zachry, and Rust weapons and rounds supplier Seth Kenney.
That case is also halted until next year.
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