Lawyers for Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who handles guns at “Rust,” are trying to block the appointment of a new special prosecutor after a former state lawmaker resigned amid controversy.
Lawyers for Gutierrez Reed on Friday criticized efforts by New Mexico 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies to hire a new special prosecutor to try to obtain felony convictions against actor Alec Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed.
In late January, Carmack-Altwies charged Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed with manslaughter in the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” near Santa Fe. Both Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed have pleaded not guilty.
Albuquerque lawyers representing gunsmith Gutierrez Reed, Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion, argued in a court filing Friday that New Mexico law does not allow district attorneys to add a special prosecutor just because a case is high-profile.
His court brief was the latest twist in the unfolding legal drama.
Carmack-Altwies sought a special prosecutor because her staff is small and public interest in Baldwin’s fate has been intense. Last summer, he hired veteran prosecutor Andrea Reeb, months before Reeb was elected to the New Mexico legislature.
Lawyers for Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed criticized the selection, arguing in recent court documents that Reeb had an untenable conflict of interest. New Mexico law, they argued, did not allow him to serve simultaneously in the legislative and judicial branches of government.
Reeb resigned this month and Carmack-Altwies asked the judge to allow the appointment of a new special prosecutor.
Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys argued that Baldwin’s fame should not be a factor for their client.
“It is fundamentally unfair to Ms. Gutierrez Reed, a 25-year-old just beginning her career, to be faced with a situation where the district attorney’s office can augment its staff and resources with taxpayer money,” Bowles and Bullion. .
They protested Carmack-Altwies’ request for a new special prosecutor, which they described as part of an effort to “throw the full weight of the state and more against (Gutierrez Reed), simply because this (case) is ‘high profile.’ ‘ and has captured the attention of the national press,” they wrote in the letter.
“The plain language of the statute provides that the district attorney may appoint a special prosecutor only ‘when (the district attorney) is unable to prosecute a case for ethical or other good cause,’” Bowles and Bullion wrote.
Carmack-Altwies declined to comment. But in a separate brief filed Friday, he argued that he had “good reason” for adding a special prosecutor to his team.
She said her office, which represents three counties in northern New Mexico, is short-staffed. She is supposed to have 25 attorneys on staff, but she has 17, and many of those attorneys are busy with other important duties.
The state, he wrote, has already provided him with emergency funds to help finance his office’s heavy workload.
“The legislative intent and case law are clear: the district attorney may appoint a special prosecutor for ‘other good cause,’ even when justified by budgetary factors and caseloads, as demonstrated here,” Carmack-Altwies wrote. .
The judge overseeing the “Rust” cases, Mary Marlowe Sommer, scheduled a hearing Monday to discuss the appointment of a special prosecutor.
The prosecution’s case has suffered setbacks, including having to lower the charges that were first announced.
Earlier this week, Baldwin’s team alleged that their client was unable to obtain a fair trial because Reeb had made comments in the media implying the actor was guilty without mentioning the presumption of innocence accorded to the defendants.
In addition, Baldwin’s lawyers pointed to an email exchange between Reeb and Carmack-Altwies last June that suggested Reeb wanted the prosecutor’s role, in part, to advance his political career. Reeb was elected in November to represent a district in eastern New Mexico that leans conservative. Before running for the legislature, Reeb was a respected district attorney.
“However, at some point, I would at least like to say that I am helping them…as it might help my campaign lol,” Reeb wrote in the June 2022 email, according to Baldwin’s court documents. The email exchange was first reported by the New York Times.
Earlier this week, Reeb said in an email to The Times that “the charges brought against Baldwin were not for political reasons.” He said he did not speak to the media about the Baldwin case during his campaign and that his communications with Carmack-Altwies were taken out of context.
“It’s time people start remembering that this case is about Alec Baldwin taking the life of Ms. Hutchins. It’s not about anything else,” Reeb wrote. “I resigned for this reason… so the focus is on what’s important… the case and not me.”
Baldwin’s lawyers, in court filings this week, said they did not oppose the appointment of a new special prosecutor to replace Reeb.
Meanwhile, David Halls, the assistant director of “Rust” who allegedly delivered the loaded gun to Baldwin, tentatively accepted a plea deal. A hearing on that matter is also scheduled for next week.