The tragedy on the Santa Fe, New Mexico, set of Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” could have serious legal consequences for Alec Baldwin, who fired a prop gun Thursday that accidentally killed the film’s director of photography Halyna Hutchins, 42, legal experts told The Post Saturday.
The repercussions for Baldwin — the film’s executive producer — could even include negligent manslaughter charges, according to Joseph Costa, an attorney with Costa Law in Los Angeles.
“As an executive producer, you are in a position of control and you can get prosecuted criminally,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of drinking and driving, meaning someone may not have intended to cause great harm but they do.”
New Mexico criminal attorney Erlinda Johnson, a former state and federal prosecutor said the “Beetlejuice” actor could face possible criminal liability for involuntary manslaughter.
“All the state needs to demonstrate is that he was engaged in a lawful, but dangerous act and did not act with due caution,” she said. “That’s what the state has to prove for involuntary manslaughter, which is a fourth-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison.”
She speculated that Baldwin may rely on the defense that someone handed him the gun, “but then, well it was incumbent upon him, since he was handling the gun, to make sure there were no rounds.”
Johnson continued: “Clearly someone didn’t do their due diligence. They should have been checking those guns to make sure there were no live rounds.”
Another Southern California lawyer said no one involved with the film is safe when it comes to getting slapped with a civil complaint.
“Everyone will be sued,” LA defense attorney Denise Bohdan told The Post. “Anyone running that set will be sued, especially when they find out who specifically was cutting corners on the set.
“Yes, Alec Baldwin was the main producer but it might be found out that another producer did more to cut corners. I don’t think there will be anything as bad as a murder charge but this is going to be a legal nightmare for Baldwin.”
“The facts have yet to come out but as to potential criminal charges they will look to his possible negligence,” Rachel Fiset, a criminal lawyer with the LA firm of Zweiback, Fiset & Coleman, told The Post.“His problems don’t lie in what he did as an actor. It will certainly come out that he thought he was firing a blank. The real issue is his role as a producer and the safety protocols – or lack thereof – on the set. If real negligence is proven, that could result in criminal charges.”
But veteran New York City criminal defense attorney Ron Kuby said he doesn’t believe Baldwin “has criminal exposure” under New Mexico law, though “he certainly has civil exposure as the producer and employer on the movie set.”
“The other thing that’s troubling is that the union members left the set and scabs were brought in to take over,” said Kuby. “Obviously, they failed to follow safety protocols. To the extent that Baldwin authorized the employment of incompetent scab labor, he faces serious liability.”
Kuby continued: “Baldwin had no reason to believe he was engaging in criminal activity. It’s not like he was driving a car knowing the brakes were bad.”
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