SANTA FE – A district attorney in Santa Fe fought back Monday against efforts to disqualify the special prosecutor pursuing manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico film set.
Baldwin's legal team in February sought to disqualify special prosecutor and Republican state Rep. Andrea Reeb of Clovis based on constitutional provisions that safeguard the separation of powers between distinct branches of government.
Defense attorneys argued that Reeb's role as a state lawmaker and prosecutor are incompatible and could distort legislative and judicial actions, including state spending on the prosecution of Baldwin over the 2021 shooting on the set of the Western movie “Rust.”
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies on Monday called the objection a “novel theory that has no support in New Mexico statutes or case law.”
She said the state constitution provides a variety of safeguards against legislators interfering with the outcome of ongoing court cases.
“Any attempt by Ms. Reeb as a legislator to influence the outcome of this trial would be completely ineffective,” Carmack-Altwies said in a court filing.
Since joining the legislature in January, Reeb has steered clear of voting on public spending to prosecute Baldwin and film-set weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. She was excused from a House floor vote in February on a proposed state budget that includes $360,000 for special prosecution expenses in the fatal film-set shooting.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 18-months in prison and fines.
Hutchins died shortly after being wounded Oct. 21, 2021, during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza. A likely preliminary hearing is still months away to decide whether evidence is sufficient to proceed to trial.
Prosecutors say assistant director David Halls, who oversaw safety on set, has signed an agreement to plead guilty in the negligent use of a deadly weapon. A judge is scheduled to consider approval of the plea agreement later this month.
Prosecution in the death of Hutchins is currently underwritten by an emergency state grant, approved in September 2022 by the State Board of Finance that is led by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Reeb is listed as a sponsor or co-sponsor on several criminal justice initiatives, including enhanced punishments for firearms violations, as legislators explore ways to rein in surging violent crime. She previously served as district attorney for a judicial district on the eastern plains of New Mexico.