Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin's lawyer recently filed a motion to disqualify the special prosecutor in the 'Rust' case, arguing she cannot simultaneously serve as a prosecutor and a state legislator.
According to Variety, an American media company, Andrea Reeb was recruited by the First Judicial District Attorney in Santa Fe last year to assist with the 'Rust' case. Reeb, a Republican, previously served as the state's Ninth Judicial District's elected prosecutor. In November, she was elected to the state House of Representatives.
Baldwin was charged last week with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 'Rust' cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Baldwin's lawyers contend in the motion filed on Tuesday that the state constitution's separation of powers section precludes Reeb from acting as both a prosecutor and a state legislator.
"Doing so vests two core powers of different branches -- legislating and prosecuting -- in the same person and is thus barred by the plain language of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution," Baldwin's lawyers wrote, reported Variety.
"Were the arrangement here approved by the courts, future District Attorneys could seek to curry favor with legislators who control their budgets by appointing them to high-profile cases -- distorting the legislative process," they argued.
In her executive budget recommendation last month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asked the Legislature to approve an additional USD 317,700 to pay for the 'Rust' prosecution.
According to Variety, Baldwin's lawyers argue that even if Reeb recuses herself from voting on that request, her fellow lawmakers might be inclined to support continuing to fund Reeb's salary as a special prosecutor.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the First Judicial District Attorney's Office called Baldwin's motion a distraction.
"Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys can use whatever tactics they want to distract from the fact that Halyna Hutchins died because of gross negligence and a reckless disregard for safety on the 'Rust' film set," said Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for the office.
"However, the district attorney and the special prosecutor will remain focused on the evidence and on trying this case so that justice is served," she added, as per Variety. (ANI)