Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Case Gets New Special Prosecutors
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Oltvis speaks at a news conference after actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot cameraman Halina Hutchins on the set of Rust in Santa Fe, NM, October 27, 2021.
Adria Malcolm | Reuters
The New Mexico District Attorney who oversaw the manslaughter case on the set of Rust recused himself Wednesday and appointed new special prosecutors after weeks of unrest and controversy over the case.
Actor Alec Baldwin and the film’s original gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reid are charged with manslaughter in the accidental murder of cinematographer Halina Hutchins on the set of Rust in 2021. – a month in prison.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Oltwis appointed New Mexico Attorney Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis as special prosecutors. The move comes two weeks after previous Special Prosecutor Andrea Rieb resigned after Baldwin’s lawyers pushed for her resignation, saying her appointment was unconstitutional.
“My responsibility to the people of the First Judicial District is greater than any single case, which is why I have decided to appoint a special counsel for the Rust case,” Carmack-Oltwis said in a statement. “Carey Morrissey and Jason Lewis will relentlessly pursue justice for the death of Halina Hutchins on behalf of the people of the First Judicial District.”
Morrissey and Lewis told CNBC via email: “We will not be issuing press statements at this time. We need to focus on preparing for the upcoming preliminary hearing.”
CNBC has reached out to Baldwin’s lawyers for comment. Jason Bowles, who represents Gutierrez-Reed, told CNBC via email that he has “no comment at this time” on Carmack-Oltvis’ recusal.
Earlier this week, New Mexico State Judge Mary Marlow Sommer ruled that Carmack-Oltwis cannot appoint a new special prosecutor unless the district attorney plans to completely withdraw from the case.
During Monday’s hearing, Carmack-Oltwis said the district attorney’s office was in a “critical situation” due to staffing shortages, which she said would not ease with Rust’s preliminary hearing due to begin May 3.
“We need additional manpower for this case so that it does not interfere with the investigation of all other cases currently in our office,” Carmack-Oltwis said on Monday.
From the outset, the case fell through due to complications associated with the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Reeb, a former district attorney, was named special prosecutor before being elected to the New Mexico legislature last fall. During Reeb’s tenure, the prosecution made numerous inflammatory statements for the defense, which critics called grossly wrong and inappropriate.
Baldwin’s lawyers argued that New Mexico’s constitution forbids people from serving as a prosecutor and legislator at the same time, as doing so could lead to a conflict of interest.
Reeb resigned on March 14, just over a month after Baldwin’s lawyers filed a petition demanding her removal, which was signed by Gutierrez-Rid’s lawyers.
Reeb and the district attorney’s office initially denied the motion, calling it a “fallacy” with no support in New Mexico law or case law. court documents.
After retiring, additional details about Reeb’s dueling commitments became known. Recently, It is reported by The New York Times. that Reeb suggested in a June 2022 email that working on the case could help her political career.
After this revelation, Baldwin’s lawyers said in court documents last Tuesday that they now reserve the future right to argue that “Reeb commissioned this case to advance her political career.”
Baldwin’s team did not object to the appointment of a new special counsel. However, Gutiérrez-Rida’s legal team called for the request for a new special prosecutor to be rejected.
Ahead of Monday’s hearing, New Mexico’s First Judicial District prosecutors filed a memo from Gutierrez-Reed’s legal team calling for the request to appoint a new special prosecutor to be denied.
“The statute is not intended to give DAs an additional taxpayer-funded ‘war chest’ to prosecute cases involving ‘high-profile’ actors or individuals, adding firepower but allowing the DA and her assistants to continue handling the case.” – Gutierrez. Reid’s lawyers said so.