Jury Chosen for Baldwin Trial

Lawyers focus on media attention and firearms in questioning

Alec Baldwin trial Alec Baldwin attended jury selection at the First Judicial District Court on July 9. Photo by Evan Chandler

Prosecuting and defense attorneys have a jury that’s ready to hear arguments in the state’s case against Rust star and producer Alec Baldwin, following a July 9 selection process.

Baldwin faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in the Oct. 21, 2021 on-set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The actor maintains he did not pull the trigger. If found guilty, he can receive up to 18 months in prison.

According to a pool report provided from the Associated Press reporter allowed in the room, Baldwin wore a grey suit, dark tie, white shirt with glasses and had neatly combed hair. Attendees included his brother Stephen Baldwin and wife Hilaria Baldwin.

Most of the 70 prospective jurors fielded a fair number of general questions from the judge, including “Are you familiar with the attorneys or Mr. Baldwin?”; “How many of you have not seen anything about this case whatsoever?”; “Do you feel you would not be able to be fair and impartial in this case?” and “Is there any anticipated undue hardship as a result of having to serve on the jury in this trial?”

Only three people from the jury pool said they had seen or heard nothing about the case, while most said they were familiar with it due to the media attention. Two individuals deemed themselves too biased to handle the case and the judge dismissed them early in the proceedings.

Nearly 20 people cited conflicts with the trial’s schedule and commitments.

Questioning from Special Prosecutor Kari Morrissey began after a three-hour delay to the planned start time—just after those handful of questions from First Judicial District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer.

“Our job is to make sure that we get a fair and impartial jury,” Morrissey said before beginning her round of questioning. “On behalf of the state, we want to get jurors who can be fair to the state, and we also want to get jurors who will be fair to Mr. Baldwin.”

Topics attorneys broached during the selection included gun safety and ownership; press coverage; prejudice and opinions on the system. Morrissey went one-by-one down the juror list asking each person about their knowledge of the case. Most were familiar but said they followed the case early on and had not read much since. One impaneled juror said what she read would not impact her ability to be impartial.

“Although I have read several articles about this case, I don’t have enough facts to form an opinion,” she said when asked.

Baldwin defense attorney Alex Spiro asked prospective jurors how they felt about firearm safety and those who defer to experts to ensure it. One impaneled juror—a gun owner and concealed carry permit holder—told Spiro he was raised with firearms.

“I’ve always been told to always double check and treat a gun as loaded,” he said. “I don’t think how I grew up would make me biased, but I just thought I’d share.”

The defense attorney doubled down on Morrissey’s sentiment of ensuring a fair trial.

“Both sides want this to be a fair and impartial jury,” Spiro said at the end of his questioning, “which means if you come in here with a strong view, this wouldn’t be the case for you.”

When the dust settled, Marlowe Sommer, alongside attorneys, narrowed the group of 70 prospective jurors to 16—12 jurors and four alternates. Of those five are male and 11 are female.

Approximately 50 witnesses are slated to testify in the Baldwin case according to court documents.

The trial will resume tomorrow, July 10, at 8:30 am, when special prosecutors begin arguments, and is expected to last until July 19. Yesterday, Marlowe Sommer ruled the state cannot introduce evidence related to Baldwin’s role as a producer in the film.

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