Judge temporarily suspends Alec Baldwin lawsuit deposition ahead of Rust trial

A judge has ruled that US actor Alec Baldwin will not have to give sworn evidence in a civil lawsuit until after his involuntary manslaughter trial.

The lawsuit, filed by three crew members from the film set Rust, claims Baldwin and his production company El Dorado Pictures caused “emotional distress” as a result of negligence following the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

She was killed on the western film set in October 2021 after a prop gun held by Baldwin went off in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Baldwin Set Shooting
Alec Baldwin gestures while talking with investigators following a fatal shooting last year on a movie set in Santa (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

On Tuesday, Judge Bryan Biedscheid “partially granted” a motion filed by Baldwin’s lawyers to “stay the action” – meaning a temporary suspension of legal proceedings – pending the resolution of his criminal case.

“There will be no depositions of Mr Baldwin individually or related to El Dorado Pictures between now and the conclusion of the criminal trial in this matter,” the judge ruled, during the virtual hearing.

However, the judge said he is not “staying” written discovery which “moves the case forward” and is “appropriate under the circumstances”, meaning parties can continue to gather evidence to use in this case.

It comes after Baldwin was re-charged with involuntary manslaughter in January this year, and will face a trial beginning on July 10.

Before the judge’s decision, Baldwin’s lawyer Robert Schwartz said lawyers for those bringing the civil action were trying to “create a record in which a jury could draw negative inferences against Mr Baldwin” if he gave his civil deposition.

British Comedy Awards 2008 – London
Alec Baldwin will face a trial in July (Ian West/PA)

“While Mr Baldwin is fighting for his freedom, here we are fighting over his money,” he said.

The hearing comes days after Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after a two-week trial.

The charge in which she has been found guilty carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a 5,000 dollar (£3,900) fine.

Baldwin, who starred as lead actor and co-producer of the film, was pointing a gun at Ms Hutchins during a rehearsal when the weapon went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

The US star previously said he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger, and the gun fired.

He was initially charged in January 2023, which was formally dismissed, before he was re-charged a year later.