Legal Analysis: Alec Baldwin Manslaughter Charge!

On January 31, 2023, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed a statement of probable cause for involuntary manslaughter in the October 21, 2021 shooting death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of low-budget western movie “Rust.”

My own legal analysis of that event, beginning the day following the shooting, had 13 months prior to the probable cause statement concluded that a charge of involuntary manslaughter was overwhelmingly warranted by the facts and law in this case–so, it’s nice to see the New Mexico legal system begin to catch up. (You can find my aggregated coverage of Alec Baldwin’s shooting of Hutchins here:

In today’s live show I’ll provide a brief overview of my own legal analysis of the tragic death of Hutchins, and then read through the statement of probable cause, with commentary (naturally).

#AlecBaldwin #HalynaHutchins

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7 thoughts on “Legal Analysis: Alec Baldwin Manslaughter Charge!”

  1. Most people attribute the “Four Rules of Firearm Safety” to Col. Jeff Cooper.

    Proof of Col. Cooper’s legacy is evident in every basic to advanced shooting class we know about. If an instructor isn’t teaching the 4 rules of firearm safety to a crop of new students, they’re reciting it to a group of advanced students to hammer home it’s importance.

    While their have been some slight modifications to these, depending on who’s saying them, the premise is always the same.

    Rule #1 – All guns are always loaded (treat them as such).
    Rule #2 – Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
    Rule #3 – Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
    Rule #4 – Identify your target, and what is behind it.

    Most people think that rule number 1 goes away when they do a courtesy check of a firearm when they first take possession of it. A lot of these people then assume the firearm isn’t loaded and that they don’t have to follow the other 3 rules of firearms safety. These are the people who say “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” when it goes boom when they didn’t intend for it to go boom.

    Other people don’t do a “courtesy check” because it’s inherently dangerous, they simply treat the firearm like it was loaded and follow the other three rules. When these people have an “accidental discharge”, it is an accidental discharge, and the accident was not caused by negligence or recklessness.

    I believe there is sufficient evidence for the prosecutor to have probable cause to reasonably believe that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Alec Baldwin committed the petty misdemeanor offense of negligent use of a deadly weapon under 30-7-4, but NM case law holds that this petty misdemeanor offense cannot serve as the predicate misdemeanor offense for an involuntary manslaughter charge under the first clause of 30-2-3 Subsection B. The prosecution has already lost on one count of the indictment and in my opinion the second count isn’t going to be all that easy to prove considering the circumstances surrounding the unintentional discharge.

    The petty misdemeanor under 30-7-4 is a lesser included offense of the one good involuntary manslaughter charge and I wouldn’t be suprised if that’s the only charge the jury will convict Baldwin on.

    I think this will be an interesting case to watch closely.

  2. Alec Baldwin’s attorneys are trying to disqualify Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor. She is a Republican from a conservative part of the state, so it probably makes sense for him, especially if they want to try to plea to a petty misdemeanor like David Halls did.
    “If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” Reeb in a news release, quoted by KRQE. “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.”
    Andrea Reeb in the New Mexico Sun on January 27, 2023
    They are probably hoping for a liberal, Democrat, replacement. It is also a great way to stall the trial and move the focus off the shooting.
    She was elected to the state House of Representatives in November, and the argument is that according to the New Mexico constitution you cannot at the same time serve in the executive or judicial branches:
    “The powers of the government of this state are divided into three distinct departments, the legislative, executive and judicial, and no person or collection of persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any powers properly belonging to either of the others, except as in this constitution otherwise expressly directed or permitted.”
    Article III, Section 1 of the New Mexico Constitution.

    1. Hate to have to say the obvious, and it probably doesn’t make any difference in anyone’s criminal liability anyway, but if Hutchins had checked the firearm herself or simply told Baldwin not to be pointing the firearm at her, she wouldn’t be dead now.

      There is such a thing as “consent”. She didn’t consent to being accidentally shot, but she did consent to having a firearm pointed at her that she hadn’t personally done a safety check on. Just who is responsible for your personal safety—you or someone else?

  3. Andrew FYI:
    Baldwins lawyers filed a motion on Friday afternoon to dismiss the firearm enhancement because it was enacted after the crime. They are claiming the old statute required brandishing and that there is no evidence to support that claim. It is a well written brief; Baldwin is getting his money’s worth with this firm:,%202023%20Defendants%20Notice%20of%20Unlawful%20Enhancement%20and%20Motion%20Not%20to%20Bind%20Over%20Enhancement%20.pdf

  4. We can infer some of Baldwin’s possible positions at trial from his civil cross-complaint:

    Some of his lawyers apparently do not know the difference between a bullet and a cartridge:

    “1. …This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun, Gutierrez-Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin, and Zachry failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her.”

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