“Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is trying to block the appointment of a new prosecutor after the original special prosecutor and GOP elect Andrea Reeb stepped down two weeks ago.
Both Reed and actor/producer Alec Baldwin have been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
On Friday, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, Jason Bowles, filed a brief arguing that the Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies is trying to misuse a New Mexico statute that allows for the appointment of an outside prosecutor.
‘Rust’ Armorer Fights Appointment Of Special Prosecutor Amid Her And Alec Baldwin’s Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
As first reported by Variety, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer filed a brief on Friday that argued that Carmack-Altwies is misusing a New Mexico statute that allows for the appointment of an outside prosecutor.
In the court documents, her lawyer, Jason Bowles, wrote, “The statute is not designed to give district attorneys a taxpayer-funded supplemental ‘war chest’ to prosecute cases involving ‘high profile’ actors or individuals.”
Interestingly enough, Baldwin’s lawyers have yet to object to the appointment of a new special prosecutor in their “Rust” case. Although special prosecutors are usually appointed when there is a conflict of interest for the District Attorney, one can be named when there is “good cause” to do so.
Last week, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer noted that a special prosecutor usually “steps into and takes over the prosecution,” meaning that the District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, would step aside and let the new special prosecutor take over the work.
Although the District Attorney’s office has asked Judge Sommer to approve the appointment of a new special prosecutor to take over for Reeb, Judge Sommer indicate that she would not approve a new special prosecutor without further legal arguments or a waiver from the legal teams representing either Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or Alec Baldwin.
Santa Fe District Attorney Claims That Her Office Is ‘Understaffed’
On Friday, Carmack-Altwies issued her own filing that stated that her office is understaffed. In the legal documents, she claimed that the office only has twenty prosecutors, and three plan to leave within a month.
Carmack-Altwies claimed that it is also difficult to recruit new prosecutors in the state and argued that a special prosecutor is needed to avoid drawing more resources from an already understaffed office.
Due to the volume of the materials in this case, Mary Carmack-Altwies has also argued that a special prosecutor will not be able to handle the case alone. The Santa Fe police department has publicized their findings, which amount to over five hundred pages of receipts, testimonies, and evidence collected by FBI Ballistics experts.
“Were the court to prohibit the District Attorney, and by extension her staff, from participating in the case, all of the groundwork done would either have to be redone by the special prosecutor or at best would have to be studied from the ground up,” she wrote in the court filing. “This would greatly increase the workload of the special prosecutor, who is already facing immense pressure to prepare for a preliminary hearing a short five weeks away.”
Carmack-Altwies has also stated that there is no ethical reason that would prohibit both her and a new special prosecutor from working together on the case. However, Jason Bowles, the lawyer for the “Rust” armorer, has argued that the District Attorney’s office often handles involuntary manslaughter cases and the law doesn’t allow outside help to be brought in just because the case involves well-known actor Alec Baldwin.
On Monday, March 27, the judge is set to hear more arguments on the issue. A preliminary hearing is due to begin on May 3, with the finalized witness list – which has been amended five times now – scheduled to be given to the defense a week before.
Andra Reeb Stepped Down From ‘Rust’ Case To Obtain ‘Justice For The Victim’
Less than two weeks after Baldwin’s legal time filed a motion to disqualify the special prosecutor, Reeb stepped down herself. The office of New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, released a statement on her behalf.
“After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the Rust case,” the statement read. “My priority in this case — and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim.”
“However, it has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins.”
“I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand,” the statement concluded.
Last week, Baldwin’s defense team claimed that the Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmarck-Altwies and former special prosecutor Andrea Reeb violated his “constitutional rights” by threatening his right to a fair trial.
“The government’s conduct represented a disregard of its ethical duties, and it has threatened Mr. Baldwin’s right to a fair trial,” a section of the filing states; however, Baldwin managed to get the firearm enhancement charge removed after his legal team successfully argued that it was “unconstitutional.”