Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin at the 2017 Emmys. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

In part to protect Alec Baldwin’s right against self-incrimination in the criminal case stemming from the fatal accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” in 2021, a judge has delayed trial of the movie’s script supervisor’s civil lawsuit against the actor from May until early 2024.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Whitaker signed an order Tuesday rescheduling the start of trial of plaintiff Mamie Mitchell’s case from May 17 to Feb. 21, 2024. Mitchell’s suit, originally filed in November 2021, names multiple defendants in addition to Baldwin. She alleges she suffered physical and emotional damages.

Mitchell was standing adjacent to Hutchins, 42, when the cinematographer was killed Oct. 21, 2021, while Baldwin, a producer and star of “Rust,” was helping to prepare camera angles for a scene on the film’s set near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin fired a prop gun that was supposed to contain only blank rounds, but instead discharged a lead bullet that struck Hutchins in the chest, then lodged in the shoulder of director Joel Souza, now 49.

Baldwin, 64, and 25-year-old armorer Hannah Guttierez-Reed are charged with involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico. Baldwin’s lawyers had previously filed a motion stating that the actor’s Fifth Amendment rights would be jeopardized in the criminal case if plaintiff Mitchell’s lawsuit is not stayed pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

“The bottom line is that Baldwin has a constitutional right not to testify against himself,” Baldwin’s lawyers argue in their court papers. “But unless this action is stayed, his lawful exercise of his constitutional rights will severely prejudice him.”

Whitaker’s order reflects an agreement among the parties presented to the judge that states that delaying the start of trial is in the best interests of everyone, not only because of Baldwin’s self-incrimination concerns, but also due to the need of the litigants to complete depositions of parties and third-party witnesses as well as to engage in “good-faith settlement negotiations.”

— City News Service