Alec Baldwin Alleges a ‘Stunning Abuse of Prosecutorial Power’ in ‘Rust’ Case

Alec Baldwin’s lawyers alleged a “stunning abuse of prosecutorial power” in the “Rust” case on Tuesday, arguing that a favorable plea offer was withdrawn last fall due to a misunderstanding about Baldwin’s role in a documentary about the case.

Baldwin is facing a trial in July in Santa Fe, N.M., on a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. If convicted, he faces up to 18 months in prison.

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Last October, prosecutors offered him a misdemeanor plea that would carry no jail time. But prosecutor Kari Morrissey said in a recent filing that she rescinded that offer after learning that Baldwin had “commissioned his own documentary” about Hutchins’ death, and was pressuring witnesses in the case to participate.

Concerned that Baldwin’s conduct would cause ongoing harm the victims and their families, she withdraw the offer and decided to seek a felony indictment.

In a response on Tuesday, Baldwin’s lawyers argued that that is a “bad faith” reason to indict someone, as it has nothing to do with the facts of the alleged crime, and that the prosecutor was mistaken about Baldwin’s involvement in the documentary.

“Morrissey’s stated reasons for pursuing an indictment are completely divorced from the public interest and reflect a stunning abuse of prosecutorial power,” wrote Baldwin’s attorneys, led by Luke Nikas.

Baldwin’s lawyers are now seeking to have the indictment thrown out, alleging violations of court orders and other defects in the grand jury process. Morrissey argued in response that the defense has lied to and misled the prosecution, and that Baldwin deserves to stand trial for his role in Hutchins’ death.

Baldwin’s defense filed a 23-page response on Tuesday, asserting that the state has engaged in a “mountain of misconduct,” and that Morrissey is “using the justice system to ‘humble’ an ‘arrogant’ celebrity that she dislikes.”

Two documentaries are in the works about Hutchins’ death, one from Rachel Mason, and another from Rory Kennedy. In the filing, Baldwin’s lawyers stated that he did not commission either one.

“He has no title or credit in either documentary,” they wrote. “He’s not a producer and has no control, of any kind, over either documentary. In both documentaries, Baldwin is only a subject, along with other members of the cast and crew.”

The defense suggested that Morrissey may have gotten her information from an “inaccurate” article in the Daily Mail, which reported last April that Baldwin had hired Kennedy to make her documentary.

In a previous filing, Morrissey stated that she withdrew the offer after confirming what she had heard about Baldwin’s conduct.

She also stated that she learned that Baldwin was planning to accept the plea, and then engage in a media blitz to claim vindication, which would include filing a frivolous lawsuit against the prosecutors.

No hearing date has yet been set for the motion to dismiss the indictment. Jury selection is scheduled for July 9.

Last week, the Santa Fe district attorney’s office appointed a third special prosecutor, Erlinda Johnson, to the case, joining Morrissey and Jason Lewis. All three are private attorneys who have been hired to prosecute Baldwin due to the D.A.’s heavy caseload.

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