Producers of Alec Baldwin film hire law firm for shooting probe

FILE PHOTO: Vigil for cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in Albuquerque
FILE PHOTO: A photo of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died after being shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of his movie "Rust", rests among candles at a vigil in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., October 23, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt

October 27, 2021

By David Thomas

(Reuters) -The producers of the film “Rust” have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to investigate last week’s accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by actor Alec Baldwin.

In a letter sent to cast and crew on Tuesday night and obtained by Reuters, the “Rust” production team said Jenner “will have full discretion about who to interview and any conclusions they draw.” The investigation will be led by attorney Brandon Fox, the managing partner of Jenner’s Los Angeles office, according to the letter.

The production team also said it is cooperating with authorities investigating the shooting that occurred last Thursday at a filming location in New Mexico.

Jenner was brought in to investigate by Rust Movie Productions LLC, according to a person familiar with the firm’s hire. Baldwin is among the producers of the film, a Western set in the 1880s.

The law firm will sit in on upcoming interviews between crew members and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency responsible for workplace safety, the letter said. The letter noted that it is standard practice for agency to investigate workplace deaths.

“We know that reliving this tragedy will be hard, but your participation is important for all of us to be able to fully understand what happened, and we encourage you to share your perspective,” the production team letter said, without using any names.

The letter said that it is typical when investigations are underway to ask witnesses to preserve any related information “such as emails, texts, drives, paper documents, or other physical items.”

“If you have any question about whether something should be preserved, please err on the side of preservation,” it said.

Jenner is known for conducting high-profile investigations. On Tuesday, it wrapped up an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct that were leveled at a former coach for the Chicago Blackhawks National Hockey League team.

The firm has also overseen monitorships into Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank and the United Auto Workers union.

Fox is a former federal prosecutor who helped oversee the U.S. government’s $3 billion settlement with Wells Fargo last year to resolve criminal and civil probes into fraudulent sales practices. He also led a corruption and civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that resulted in several convictions

(Reporting by David Thomas in Chicago; Editing by David Bario and Will Dunham)