Actor Alec Baldwin’s attorneys filed papers on Tuesday demanding that the special prosecutor who was assigned to the “Rust” shooting case be removed.
Baldwin was formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
According to a report from CNN, their filing states that Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb — a Republican who previously served as a prosecutor in the state’s Ninth Judicial District — should no longer be allowed to serve as special prosecutor since she was elected to New Mexico’s State House last November.
“The special prosecutor in this case, Andrea Reeb, is a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives. Under Section 1 of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution, however, a sitting member of the Legislature may not ‘exercise any powers properly belonging’ to either the executive or judicial branch,” the motion begins.
The motion claims that the separation of powers defined in the New Mexico State constitution does not allow for Reeb to continue in her role as special prosecutor — a role to which she was appointed last year by the First Judicial District Attorney in Santa Fe — if she wished to serve as a 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,” the motions states, arguing that commingling the two would potentially risk allowing her political positions to influence her actions as a prosecutor.
“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,” the motion continues.
Control of the budget appears to be a sticking point in the filing — particularly the fact that the state legislature has already been asked by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to approve a budget of $317,700 to be used for the prosecution — since Reeb could potentially be casting a vote on her own budget.
Baldwin’s lawyers went on to claim that even if Reeb were to refrain from voting on that specific issue, her colleagues could vote in favor of it in an effort to gain her support on other issues.
Reeb gave a previous statement saying that she would never allow her personal political views to influence her actions as a prosecutor. “Everybody’s equal under the law. It doesn’t matter if he’s a liberal Democrat and I’m a conservative Republican. My job has always been to prosecute crimes and hold defendants accountable and help victims. In this case it’s no different.”