Celebrity Lawyer Chris Melcher Explains the Rust Shooting Charges
[Source: ABC News]
Celebrity Lawyer Christopher C. Melcher, who is ranked as a best family law attorney in California, Explains the Rust Shooting Charges on ABC News.
Top family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher. Were you surprised at all with the District Attorney’s decision to announce charges against Alec Baldwin?
No, not really, because he was holding the gun when it went off, he accepted a firearm. This wasn’t a prop gun, this was a real gun that he accepted from a first assistant director who was never supposed to be handling the gun, is not qualified, and handed that gun to Alec and said, “Cold gun.”
No one checked it in front of him, Alec didn’t insist on it being checked in front of him, and he just went forward and assumed that it was safe. And the first rule of gun safety is you never assume that it’s safe. Alec knows better, and that’s why I’m not surprised by the charge.
And we heard from Alec Baldwin saying that that loaded gun should have never been given to him, but tell us why you believe Alec is being deemed responsible for this. I mean, he was holding the gun, but in your opinion, your legal opinion, why is he the one basically taking the blame for this?
…Actors are not firearm experts. So I agree with him there that you rely on a professional, but in the safety bulletin that’s industry-wide for film productions that involve a firearm- they require that the firearm be opened up and displayed so you can see that it’s safe, so you physically and visually inspect it to see that it’s safe. That’s done every time. Alec has admitted that he’s been on many movie shoots before, so this is always done. But this production, I mean, they violated every single rule.
So he did not insist on anyone checking it for him to show him that it was safe, he just went ahead and assumed that a gun is safe and pointed at somebody and pulled the trigger. And he’s also a producer. And that’s significant because under the industry rules, the producer bears ultimate responsibility for the safety on the set.
Clearly, safety protocols were not followed on the Rust set, as you mentioned. But as we reported in a statement, Baldwin’s lawyer has pledged to fight these involuntary manslaughter charges. How do you think his lawyers will go about trying to get these charges dismissed?
Well, he’s going to try and lay off blame on the others, like his statement indicated that it was everyone else’s fault.
I think he’ll also challenge the FBI firearm report, because in Alec’s earlier statement he had said that he never put his finger on the trigger, that he cocked the hammer and that it went off. So the implication is that this gun was damaged or had been modified, the FBI disputes that but I imagine there will be a battle of the experts there.
And it just depends on the juror. Each juror has to come up with a verdict here beyond a reasonable doubt and believe that it was careless or reckless for Alec to take a gun, point it at another person and assumed that it was unloaded.
Yeah, it will definitely be interesting to watch. How do you think this will end up for Alec?
My sense is that Alec will take a plea deal like David Halls had just done. There are some other charges that he can use to take responsibility for this that do not carry a jail sentence, like negligent handling of a firearm. And that would be a way for the prosecution to get justice and for him to take accountability and avoid jail.
So despite the bravado that we’re hearing right now, it would be sensible to take a deal, but he has a right to go to a trial if he wants.
All right. We will see what happens. Chris Melcher, who is a partner at top family law firm Walzer Melcher Yoda LLP, thank you so much for your legal expertise.
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