Alec Baldwin To Skip Latest ‘Rust’ Hearing; Actor Gets Waiver From Judge Just Ahead Of Virtual Session On Fatal Shooting Criminal Case

By Dominic Patten, Anthony D'Alessandro

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin, Rust set Getty/AP

Once again, Alec Baldwin will not be showing up at a hearing in the criminal case for the Rust shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.

Just hours before a rescheduled virtual hearing Thursday in front of New Mexico Judge Mary Marlow Sommer with co-defendant and ex-Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, Baldwin has requested and been granted a waiver from appearing.

“I understand that I am charged with the following offense or offenses under the law of the State of New Mexico: Involuntary Manslaughter (Section 30-2-3(B), NMSA 1978) in two alternatives,” Baldwin said in a filing Thursday in Santa Fe County. “I understand that I am entitled to personally appear before the Court at every stage of the criminal proceedings,” he added. “After reading and understanding the above, I request that the Court permit me to waive a personal appearance in court for the following proceedings: All Status Conferences.”

Sommer granted the request, which likely had as much to do with Baldwin and his New York City-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan attorneys trying to dim the media spotlight on the case, as it did with the content of today’s session itself.

Still, for a hearing that was originally supposed to occur March 8, the process is similar to when 64-year-old Baldwin officially entered a plea of not guilty February 23 and waived his right to appear virtually at the first hearing in the high-profile matter the next day. Reed did not waive her right to appear and was present onscreen with her lawyer Jason Bowles, the judge, and D.A.  Mary Carmack-Altwies at that February 24 gathering.

Like Baldwin looking at up to 18 months behind bars and various fines if found guilty, the 25-year-old Reed has not officially entered a plea. She is expected to be present at today’s remote hearing.

With the public release of an FBI-assisted investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office last November, Baldwin and Reed were formally charged by prosecutors with two counts of involuntary manslaughter on January 31 over the October 21, 2021 death of Hutchins at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Rust director Joel Souza was also wounded from the live ammo that came out of the 1880s prop gun that star/producer Baldwin was holding.

The original charges included an enhancement that came with a mandatory five-year prison stint if Baldwin and/or Reed were found guilty. Under protest and claims from lawyers from the defendants that the charge was “unconstitutional,” the somewhat red-faced D.A. removed the charge last month. As a resurrected Rust pledges to go into production in Montana soon-ish, Baldwin and his team are also attempting to have special prosecutor Andrea Reeb tossed from the case because of her dual role as a recently elected GOP New Mexico legislator.

The D.A. has pushed back, insisting that Reed, a seasoned prosecutor, can handle both gigs and that there is no conflict of interest.

With or without Baldwin, this afternoon’s status hearing will likely see Sommer and the various lawyers seek to work out when they will discuss the special prosecutor skirmish. They could also put a date for a preliminary hearing on the calendar for the next few months.

With a trial in theory to come, the commitments of the participating attorneys, the D.A and perhaps even the judge herself will determine if any of that is coming sooner or later — but bet on the latter.

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