New Mexico prosecutors announced today that they are filing charges against actor Alec Baldwin, as well as weapons handler Hannah Gutierrez Reed, for the tragic October, 2021 accident on the set of the movie ‘Rust’. The production failed to ensure several safety precautions that should never had allowed live ammunition on the set, much less in a gun handed to an actor.
Baldwin denies that he pulled the trigger. While it’s possible the gun malfunctioned, the FBI said their tests showed the gun functioned properly, meaning that the trigger would need to be pulled for it to discharge. His statements to the contrary will call his testimony into question.
That said, it will be extremely difficult for prosecutors to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. First, when he was handed the gun, he was told that it was a “cold” gun… that means he expected it to be safe. That makes it hard to prove the his lawful act “might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.” He did not have reason to pause because there were protocols in place, ammunition should not have been live on the set, and he was told the gun was cold.
That doesn’t end the analysis for several reasons. One additional factor is that he was a producer on the film. That means he may bare some more responsibility for the lack of safety on the set and the failure to ensure protocols are followed. I don’t think that rises to the level of criminal responsibility, that sounds more like civil liability. Apparently the civil wrongful death matter has already been settled by Baldwin and the production.
I think the prosecutor wants to show that they do not hold anybody above the law, but I think they will have a hard time proving criminal charges against Baldwin. Frankly, the fact that they also charged the armorer suggests her negligence may weigh against Baldwin’s responsibility. I think there is a high likelihood it will go to trial, as Baldwin will want to try to win acquittal in court, but it will be fascinating to watch from a legal standpoint.
An Ohio man was stopped for suspicion of DUI the other day, and he tried a unique way to show the officers that he was not impaired. 27-year-old Tanner Watson was pulled over in Broadview Heights for speeding, but officers suspected a possible OVI (Ohio’s version of DUI). He admitted a having a few beers, but to show that he wasn’t drunk, he did a backflip for the officers on the side of the road. Not only that, he landed it.
Based on his performance on the other exercises, officers still felt that he was impaired and arrested him. But, he’s got an argument to the jury that his acrobatics would show that he’s not impaired. There is some power to the argument that if he can pull off such a physical feat, that he was not impaired, as most of the jurors would not be able to do a flip!
A friend of mine at the prosecutor’s office was working a DUI case many years ago, and wanted to show me the video. He thought he had a great case because the Defendant started dancing during the field sobriety exercises. Not just any dancing, she was a ballet dance, and started going through positions and performed some impressive moves. I told him that the case may not be as strong as he thought, and the jury ended up acquitting her. It can be hard to show that someone’s normal faculties are impaired, as required by the law, when they can perform impressive athletic skills.
I said it was a unique way to avoid a DUI, but a little searching shows that he is not the only person to do a backflip to try to prove his sobriety, here’s another:
A Port Charlotte man went into a Charlotte County massage parlor, sorry, “spa,” and requested a massage from the ‘masseuse’ there, Ms. Dong. That’s really her name, though I won’t list her first name. He took off all his clothes and laid down on the table, where the worker started rubbing his shoulders. She asked him to flip over, and he did so, fully naked and without a covering towel. He says he was surprised when the massage worker grabbed his genitals. Shocked, I’m sure!
The alleged victim told deputies he paid $100, when massages were only listed for $70. He told the cops he called after she refused to give him his money back. That’s probably about the end of the truth in his story.
She told deputies that she was giving him a massage when he started asking for sexual favors. She says she refused, and he became angry, and gave him $50 back hoping he would leave so she went to the back room.
So, either the guy had NO IDEA that this strip mall ‘massage parlor’ was a haven for sexual favors -OR- he knew it was and asked her to do things she didn’t want to do. Which situation is more likely? Generally, when stories differ, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The more plausible story is probably nearer the truth. However, the cop arrested her for Battery and for Unnatural and Lascivious Act, because the dude was the one who called the cops. Good luck proving that one.
Greetings and salutations for a great new year from Crimcourts. This year is exciting for me, as I take over as President of the Lee County Bar Association. Hence the cover of our magazine, Res Gestae. To save you the need to ask or look it up, res gestae is latin for “things done.” Pretty clever!
We’ve been pretty busy around the Law Office of Spencer Cordell, which has cut back on my blogging lately, but I’m going to try to keep it up whenever I can get things posted. Be sure to follow on Twitter@crimcourts and Facebook, sometimes I share articles quicklyon there when I don’t have a chance to write something up myself. Good fortune to everyone this year, and good luck on your New Year’s resolutions!