Looking at potentially months before a trial even starts in Alec Baldwin’s criminal case over the October 2021 shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, the actor is now accusing prosecutors of violating his “constitutional rights.”
“The government’s conduct represented a disregard of its ethical duties, and it has threatened Mr. Baldwin’s right to a fair trial,” claims a March 21 filing by Baldwin’s NYC and Dallas-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan defense (read it here).
Placed in the docket in New Mexico, this latest swipe at prosecutors specifically cites statements made by Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies’ office and now exited special prosecutor Andrea Reeb about the indie Western’s star/producer’s “gross negligence and a reckless disregard for safety on the Rust film set” and more.
Crawling towards a May 3 starting preliminary examination a.k.a. minitrial, the case against Baldwin and co-defendant and ex-Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed appears to be wounded and dwindling due to 1,000 paper-cuts. However, despite a number of public salvos in the past and recent retreats by prosecutors, the D.A.’s office had no comment today on this new filing by Baldwin’s team
Taking over a year after Hutchins’ killing to finally charge Baldwin and Reed in late January with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, the D.A. on February 20 withdrew an ill-conceived firearm enhancement that came with a five-year prison stint after defense attorneys insisted it was “unconstitutional. As it stands now, Baldwin and Reed are looking at 18-months max behind bars and around $5,000 in fines if a jury delivers a verdict against the duo.
Coming up short in a February 24th attempt to see Reed denied a request to possess a gun in her home for self-defense, Carmack-Altwies then found her office on what was eventually the losing side of a partisan brawl by any other name.
The D.A. initially defended the appointment last summer of ex-district attorney for New Mexico’s Ninth Judicial District Reeb to Rust special prosecutor after February 7 calls for her disqualification came from Baldwin and Reed’s side. Facing protestations of “unconstitutionally” and conflict of interest for being a GOP member of the state legislature, Reeb herself decided to jump before she was embarrassingly pushed. On March 14, two weeks before a hearing on well-known Democrat Baldwin’s disqualification motion, Reeb announced she had “made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the Rust case.”
But, if you thought that was the end of this for now …well, you may not have been paying close enough attention to the strategy that not-guilty pleading Baldwin’s crew is employing. Repurposing Ulysses S. Grant’s Civil War attack on all sides approach for the legal realm, the Luke Nikas-led defense this week leapt on revelations from the New York Times that Reeb asked the D.A. in June last year to “publicize the fact that she was working on the case in order to advance her political career,” as the filing paraphrases. Republican Reeb was successfully in the race to become the state Representative for New Mexico’s s 64th District in November’s midterms.
Perhaps making it all the worse, in the weeks before Reeb was formally named as special prosecutor, Carmack-Altwies replied via email to Reeb’s political request with: “”I am intending to either introduce you or send it in a press release when we get the investigation”
“Representative Reeb’s prosecution of this case against Mr. Baldwin to advance her political career is a further abuse of the system and yet another violation of Mr. Baldwin’s constitutional rights,” said the defendant bluntly in Tuesday’s filing. For the time being, with several victories notched on their belt, Baldwin’s team agree the criminal case can go forward with D.A. Carmack-Altwies and an as-yet-unannounced “properly appointed” new special prosecutor sharing duties.
Still, laying the groundwork for another attack at the stumbling D.A.’s office and their case, the document from QEUS and Albuquerque-based Bailey, LeBlanc & Lane PC went on say:
Given Representative Reeb’s resignation, which was constitutionally compelled, Mr. Baldwin withdraws the Disqualification Motion as moot. But Mr. Baldwin does not waive the rights to raise the disqualification issue in the future or to otherwise challenge the prosecution as a whole on the grounds that the State’s conduct to date-including evidence that Reeb charged the case to advance her political career, the inclusion of the unlawful firearm enhancement, the State’s improper and prejudicial public statements, and Representative Reeb’s principal role in the investigation and prosecution-has violated Mr. Baldwin’s constitutional rights.
After an extensive and FBI-assisted investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office was released in November 2022, Baldwin and Rust armorer Reed were formally charged by the Santa Fe D.A. with two counts of involuntary manslaughter on January 31 over the tragic October 21, 2021, onset death of Hutchins at the Bonanza Creek Ranch location just outside Santa Fe. Rust director Joel Souza was wounded in that shooting but recovered quickly.
A resurrected Rust is supposedly going into production in Montana on April 20, as Report Door exclusively reported on March 16. That Rust 2.0 will star Baldwin, be directed by Souza and have widower Matthew Hutchins as an executive producer. Along with various Rust crew members, and law enforcement officials, the spouse of the slain DoP is currently on the D.A.’s witness list for the two-week minitrial set to start May 3 in Santa Fe.
It is far from the only court appearance on Baldwin’s calendar, at least indirectly.
Coming out of what was already an apparently troubled set, Hutchins’ death has seen Baldwin sued and countersuing in civil cases from Rust crew members in both the Land of Enchantment and California. While a wrongful death suit from Matthew Hutchins was settled and dropped in October 2022 with the widower joining the Rust production, Halyna Hutchins’ Ukrainian-based parents and sisters took Baldwin and fellow producers to court in LA on February 9 for negligence.
So, with at least one civil case now paused for the criminal case in New Mexico, the death of Halyna Hutchins will be before the courts for years to come. Of course, with Judge Mary Marlow Sommer tio determine in May if there is enough evidence to move forward, whether or not the criminal case itself even goes to trial is becoming more and more of a question.