New Mexico

Despite vast opposition, MLG trucks ahead with likely futile special session

On Wednesday, Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a press conference to announce her call for the special session she has proclaimed to begin at noon on Thursday. 

Despite vast opposition from her own party on her five crime-related bills that would increase penalties for felons in possession of firearms and holding mentally ill individuals pending trial, among other measures — all opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and a compact of many other leftist groups that say the policies are rushed or useless. 

Flanked by Democrat Mayor Tim Keller to her right and Lt. Gov. Howie Morales and First Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman to her left, the defiant governor said, “Tomorrow at noon, we’re asking lawmakers to do right by New Mexico families.”

“Not one day I don’t see this behavior,” referring to homelessness and crime.

Keller said, “I am here in solidarity” with social workers and police departments.” He claimed that “people with a badge” said a special session was correct to call. 

“I do appreciate the governor’s courage to call this,” he continued, bemoaning the fact that New Mexico has a part-time legislature. He said special sessions are the “only way to work on urgent problems.” 

Bregman said to the governor, “Thank you for shining a light on these important issues. I don’t think anybody can deny the fact we have a crime problem.” He applauded the governor’s proposed criminal competency bill and bill to increase the penalties for all felons (including nonviolent felons) in possession of firearms to 12 years of mandatory sentences. 

Morales said the special session is to address “consistencies” he sees being brought forward across the state. He said it was a “business,” “environmental,” and “education” special session.

In a move meant to save face, the governor added to her call legislation for compensation to Ruidoso’s fire victims, who suffered massive losses earlier in the summer due to two wildfires — one said to be lightning-related and one that is suspected arson. 

The bills she is demanding be addressed include legislation that would impose “civil commitment and outpatient treatment,” ban people from panhandling on “medians,” address “gun violence,” including increasing penalties for “felons in possession,” addressing racketeering laws to “stem the rise of organized crime by effectively prosecuting” criminals, address “drug overdoses” due to fentanyl, and compensate the South Fork/Salt Fire victims.

“I’m no stranger to what is available,” she said regarding a question about calling as many special sessions as necessary to ram through her agenda. 

When asked about her own party bucking her agenda, she said, “That’s for them to answer about why,” hoping they would not be “playing politics” with the special session.

“This isn’t about doing the work to coming to [an] agreement…. This is about a Legislature, the day the last session started, were not willing to discuss these proposals,” Lujan Grisham said to reporters regarding Democrats in the Legislature who buck her proposals. “There’s still time” to discuss these bills, she said. 

“We’ve added the relief for Ruidoso, we’ve added the racketeering bill, we’ve added the fentanyl bill,” she said regarding the changes she made in her proposals since Monday’s press conference from Democrat leadership, who said they opposed her agenda.

“If they just adjourn, people in Ruidoso who didn’t create a fire — don’t deserve this — could lose an opportunity to know that their house gets saved,” she said. 

ACLU, progressives ramp up pressure against MLG’s special session

On Tuesday, during a meeting of the Legislative Courts, Corrections, and Justice Committee, multiple members of the public came out in opposition to Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s so-called “crime” agenda she plans for her upcoming special session, which she has set to begin Thursday.

Members of the public, almost entirely leftists, said bold statements about the governor’s five proposed bills, characterizing them as failing to “get at the root of the problem,” “unconstitutional and unproductive,” “failed approaches,” and claims that the governor is using homeless people as a wedge issue or a “scapegoat.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union wrote on X, “While the governor seems intent on ignoring the requests from our communities, please urge our lawmakers to tell her they don’t support her call for a special legislative session.”

In a petition it shared, the ACLU added, “[T]his call is unpopular within members of her own party who want to work on real solutions to public safety, not empty gestures that will only make us less safe. The governor’s proposals will not advance public safety in New Mexico — but they will pose serious risks to New Mexicans’ rights, dignity, health, and autonomy.”

“The governor’s rushed special session lacks meaningful community input, excluding key organizations and experts. The proposed bills share a flawed reliance on punishment and incarceration instead of a public health approach,” concluded the group.

Despite vast opposition from Democrats, who the governor needs to vote for her legislation in the session, and progressive groups, the “rushed” special session still looks set to begin on Thursday.

However, it is unclear what will be accomplished in the meeting of the Legislature, which might result in both or one chamber gaveling out sine die shortly after gaveling in.

Herrell smashes fundraising records with massive haul for NM congressional race

According to a report from Punchbowl News, Republican former Congresswoman Yvette Herrell has raised a massive sum for her bid to reclaim New Mexico’s Second District from Democrat hands.

The outlet wrote that she “raised $802,000 in the second quarter of 2024. Herrell is running in a rematch of her 2022 contest against Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) in New Mexico’s 2nd District.” 

Delanie Bomar of the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote on X, announcing the haul, “A record breaking Q2 for Yvette Herrell!” 

Bomar added that Herrell “is raking in the cash and #NM02 is ready to show 

[Gabe Vasquez] the door!” 

The news comes as Vasquez is under fire for refusing to endorse Democrat Joe Biden in his presidential bid following a disastrous first presidential debate. 

Herrell is also blasting Vasquez for his criminal record, including bucking a police warrant for over two decades and calling a former colleague a “ni—er,” per police reports. 

‘Shame on you’: Livid gov trashes ‘never serious,’ ‘failed’ Dems for resisting her

On Monday morning, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham visited a problematic area in downtown Albuquerque to highlight the need for the upcoming special legislative session aimed at addressing public safety and mental health issues.

Governor Lujan Grisham criticized some legislators for canceling critical meetings, lunches, and hearings ahead of the special session, stating, “Which tells me they were never serious about supporting any of these issues in the first place. My message for them on behalf of the business owners and the people living here is, ‘Shame on you.’”

Amid pushback from Democrat leaders, the governor declared, “Enough is enough.” She emphasized that legislative and city leaders, including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, are committed to tackling these pressing issues. “I’ve got legislative policy markers, lawmakers who have a sense that the mayor and I, and others, aren’t really considering this issue from an affordability and a place of compassion,” Lujan Grisham said, aiming to prove her critics wrong.

During her visit to 1st Street and Prospect Avenue, an area plagued by homeless encampments, Mayor Keller noted, “We had 3,000 calls for service for encampments, and as I mentioned, we clean about 200 encampments a month.” Both the governor and mayor believe the proposed bills could bring much-needed relief. “You can’t walk on the sidewalk. You can’t enter these businesses. These business owners can barely keep their doors open. They spend more time on their own public safety and the environment around their business,” Lujan Grisham added.

One proposed bill would change how courts handle offenders found incompetent to stand trial. “If these individuals will not seek care and break the law and come right back to the streets, there is nothing we can do to interrupt this chaos,” the governor stated.

Local business owners, like William Johnson of ABQ’s Best Equipment Service, are frustrated with the situation. “We’re scared to be out there sometimes because they are throwing needles over the fence while we are back there working. Same thing, they are out there smoking whatever,” Johnson said.

Governor Lujan Grisham urged New Mexicans to support the special session, stating, “The climate is so harsh that you are not safe anywhere. I would say to those legislators, ‘I don’t believe New Mexicans think you can wait, and I don’t frankly understand why you think you can.’” She called on citizens to contact their lawmakers and hold them accountable for either addressing the issues or allowing the chaos to continue.

The special session, set to begin on Thursday, has sparked significant debate among lawmakers. Democrat leaders held a news conference on Monday, arguing that the session is a waste of time and taxpayer money. They claim there has been insufficient time to reach a consensus on the proposed bills.

“We appreciate the important issues that the governor has raised, calling this special session, particularly around the nexus of behavioral health care and public safety,” said House Speaker Javier Martinez. However, he emphasized the need for thorough legislative consideration, stating, “As state lawmakers, we also have a constitutional duty as a separate and coequal branch of government to fully consider the legislation that comes before us and the potential impact it may have on New Mexicans.”

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth criticized the timing of the special session, stating, “Special sessions only work when the bills are cooked. We thought we had an agreement with the governor that she wouldn’t proceed unless there was consensus. The governor went ahead and called this session before we had even started working on these bills; that’s certainly her prerogative.” He added, “We have worked hard to try and find bipartisan consensus on the bills that were proposed. As the speaker said, we’re just not there.”

Senator Mimi Stewart expressed concern about rushing the process, stating, “We do not believe these concerns can be effectively remedied in a very condensed special legislative session. It’s simply too important to rush into this and risk harming that will take up more of our time down the road to unwind and repair.”

Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to address public safety issues. House Republican Leader Rod Montoya said, “Once again, progressive Democrats have failed to take the New Mexico crime problem seriously. House Republicans are prepared with a tough-on-crime package and are ready to work. New Mexicans are relying on their elected officials to ensure their safety. However, this chaos in the Roundhouse is disheartening and leaves New Mexicans feeling less secure than ever.”

Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca echoed this sentiment, stating, “Despite all of the voices of detractors on the prospect of improving our state, anything we can do to make our families safer is worth our time. We have many bills we are ready to introduce during this special session that we believe would make a measurable impact in the lives of the people of our state and we are ready to work with anyone to meaningfully address public safety.”

Governor Lujan Grisham’s spokesman released a statement criticizing Democrat legislative leaders for not engaging meaningfully with the governor’s proposals. “The governor’s proposals to improve public safety in New Mexico in a special session should have come as no surprise to any lawmaker who was paying attention. Legislators had competency legislation on their plate beginning in January, and they rejected it. Gov. Lujan Grisham then began signaling her intent to call a special session before the end of the regular session in February.”

The statement continued, “Democratic legislative leaders have failed to meaningfully engage with the governor and her team on the substance of her proposals to help keep New Mexicans safe. Over the past several months, they’ve resisted productive discussions of what would be possible to accomplish in a special session and refused to offer any viable legislative alternatives. If lawmakers adjourn without taking up the governor’s proposals to make our state safer this week, the decision will come at the expense of New Mexicans who are demanding public safety reforms. Just today, the governor met with two business owners in Albuquerque who have been assaulted and burglarized at their place of business. Crime is a serious problem in New Mexico. This can’t wait.”

Lujan Grisham gets terrible news from NM Dem legislative leaders

Three days before a special legislative session is set to begin, Democratic leaders from both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature voiced “deep concerns” on Monday regarding Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s five proposals, per the Santa Fe New Mexican. This announcement follows a coalition of advocacy organizations, behavioral health providers, and others urging the governor to delay the session to allow for more engagement with community experts on mental health and public safety issues before the regular 60-day session next year.

“The proposed policies are not the kind of meaningful solutions that we need right now,” said House Speaker Javier Martínez during a news conference at the state Capitol. “Let me be clear; let us be clear. We are not saying that this is too hard. What we are saying is that we have deep concerns about the potential impact these proposals will have on New Mexicans, especially the most vulnerable among us. We do not believe these concerns can be effectively remedied in a very condensed special legislative session. Let me reiterate: We are not afraid of hard work. We’re also not afraid of standing up for what is right, right now, and potentially rushing these bills is not right for New Mexico.”

Despite the lawmakers’ concerns, Governor Lujan Grisham remains committed to proceeding with the special session. Michael Coleman, her communications director, stated, “She’s going to go full steam ahead.” Coleman noted that the governor is open to modifications to her proposals but believes these are pressing matter, and lawmakers have had at least eight weeks to work on them.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth echoed the sentiment at the news conference, emphasizing that special sessions are only effective “when the bills are cooked.” He added, “We thought we had an agreement with the governor when she first indicated she wanted to call a special [session], that she wouldn’t proceed unless there was consensus. The governor went ahead and called this session before we had even started working on these bills. That’s certainly her prerogative. We have worked hard to try and find bipartisan consensus on the bills that were proposed. As the speaker said, we’re just not there.”

Senator Mimi Stewart concurred, stating, “Special sessions, they’re only effective when the proposals put forth are vetted in advance, so we can walk into the chamber with confidence in knowing the laws we are about to pass will be good for the people of New Mexico. As Speaker Martinez and Leader Wirth have both pointed out, we are far from that juncture.”

Before the news conference, Senator Crystal Brantley expressed her frustration in a telephone interview, noting that Republicans feel disorganized and left in the dark. “As recent as this morning, we were being told to prepare for three weeks, pack for three weeks, but also be prepared for us to immediately adjourn,” she said. “How do you prepare for that? For legislators, for lobbyists, for constituents? It’s in such disarray right now that I think it’s really making a mockery of the legislative process and the Legislature in general.”

Brantley highlighted the Republicans’ frustration, adding, “The reality is that we are in a minority and because of that, Republicans are dependent on the direction and guidance of Democrat leadership and so when Democrat leadership doesn’t have a plan, really we are in a waiting game right now with little information to go by, so little that we’re unable to really adequately prepare to do much.”

She emphasized the support among Republicans, particularly those representing districts near the Mexico border, for the governor’s special session focused on public safety. “It gives us an opportunity to help all of New Mexico,” she said. “What’s frustrating is while [the governor’s] intentions may have been well and I support the call, there just has not been enough work on the front end to prepare for anything meaningful.”

NM Dem Party official, MLG ally, says ‘too bad’ failed Trump assassin missed

Diane Cox, A Democrat Party of New Mexico official from Albuquerque who sits on the Party’s State Central Committee, posted an article from The Atlantic titled “Trump is planning for a landslide win” on her Facebook post after 45th President Donald Trump narrowly missed a fatal head wound at a rally in Pennsylvania, where an assassin attempted to murder him. The assassin ended up killing at least one rally attendee and leaving others injured, including Trump, who was pierced in his right ear by a bullet. 

One of Cox’s connections, Angela Agosta, wrote, “And now he will be America’s hero who survived an assassination attempt. The way the crowd was chanting usa USA (sic) as he was leaving the stage was so scary.” 

Cox then replied, “[R]ight? Even if he had been killed (too bad they missed) he’d become a Martyr to their fascist cause.” 

Another leftist commenter, Jessica Corley, agreed with Cox’s wish for the 45th President to have died, writing, “I could have lived with that.” 

Hours later, she then shared a post from her friend, Garry Breeswine, who wrote, “I know it’s asking too much, but I’m actually begging yall (sic) to care this much next time it’s a 3rd grade classroom instead of an A—HOLE’s f—ing ear.” 

Cox quipped, “Garry Breeswine said what most of us who aren’t hypocritical  MAGA nutjobs feel.” 

According to Cox’s information on Facebook, she lists herself as working as a “Gun Reform Activist” at Everytown Survivor Network, a rabid anti-gun group, as well as the “campaign consultant” for Steve Brockett, a far-left Alamogordo Democrat who was previously running for New Mexico House District 51 before dropping out and endorsing another far-leftist. 

According to MoneyTrail NM, a project of “New Mexico In Depth,” Cox has been a major donor to the Democrat Party, giving $1,050 to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2022 and hundreds of dollars to candidates, including Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, far-left state Sens. Harold Pope and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, both of Albuquerque, New Mexico Senate candidates Heather Berghmans and Cindy Nava (an illegal immigrant), New Mexico House candidate Ashlie Myers, who Brokett endorsed when dropping out, among scores of donations to the Democrat Party’s ActBlue apparatus. 

Despite calls for the Democrat Party of New Mexico to condemn Cox wishing death upon Trump, the party has yet to denounce her or call for her removal from its State Central Committee.

Dem NM Sen. Moe Maestas cracks joke about Trump assassination attempt

After a failed attempt on 45th President Donald Trump’s life at a Pennsylvania rally by a now-deceased assassin, who left at least one rallygoer deceased and one in critical condition, New Mexico state Sen. Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque) commented on a post about the attempted murder by joking about former President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

One X account, @Lobogabe, wrote following the shooting at 4:25 p.m., “Holy f—k, Watching his rally and there’s gunshots. It looks like he is injured. I guarantee this is a Democrat. This is the most disgusting thing in the history of the country. Omg. I can believe this. Please God keep him safe.”

To that, Maestas wrote at 5:27 p.m., “History of the country? Where do you rank that Ford’s Theater incident? Top 5?” followed by a face exhaling emoji.

While Maestas was joking about the attempted murder of the 45th President, other Democrat politicians, such as U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, among others, were joining Republicans in wishing Trump well and denouncing political violence. 

Then, over one full hour later, Maestas changed his tune, writing on X, “Political violence has no place in a free democratic society. I condemn today’s disgusting violence unequivocally and share in the sadness many are feeling right now. I pray for a speedy and healthy recovery of President Trump.” 

He then attempted to downplay his previous comment, which joked about the attempted assassination of President Trump, claiming he did not know what he was commenting on because he had “just landed” from a flight. 

He wrote, “I hope we grow as a nation from this horrible experience. We must reverse this current state of hate and divisiveness. I apologize profusely to everyone for a spontaneous earlier post. I had just landed, and did not realize in that instance that Trump had been struck.”

Despite his excuse-ridden “apology,” the Republican Party of New Mexico’s Chairman Steve Pearce wrote, “It is unacceptable that Senator Maestas’ first response to an assassination attempt, where the former President was shot at, narrowly missing his head, one person was killed and another severely injured, was to make a joke and downplay it. He has demonstrated that he does not have the character or discernment worthy of a New Mexico Senator.”

He added, “He apologized only after being criticized and justified his tweet by claiming he didn’t know the President had been struck. That is a weak excuse. New Mexicans deserve representation that acknowledges the gravity of this situation and will address it with the seriousness and dignity it deserves. Senator Maestas should step down after making such a disgraceful post.”

Others, including state Reps. John Block (R-Alamogordo) and Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) urged for Maestas’ immediate resignation “in disgrace,” with Block saying the Democrat state lawmaker’s apology was “not accepted.” 

Since the deadly shooting and attempted assassination attempt on the 45th President’s life, the 45th President has been confirmed as safe, as the FBI takes the reigns of the investigation.

“The FBI has assumed the role of the lead federal law enforcement agency in the investigation of the incident involving former President Donald Trump that occurred earlier today in Butler, Pennsylvania. Special agents of the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office responded immediately, to include crisis response team members and evidence response technicians. We will continue to support this investigation with the full resources of the FBI, alongside our partners at the U.S. Secret Service and state and local law enforcement,” wrote the Bureau. 

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NY Times: Biden in peril as NM, other Dem strongholds become tossups

As Joe Biden remains committed to running as the Democrat presidential presumptive nominee, Democrats are increasingly worried that his candidacy is transforming the political landscape, turning states like New Mexico into competitive battlegrounds.

Local officials, down-ballot Democrats, and party strategists have voiced concerns that states Biden won easily in 2020—such as Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Virginia—could now be up for grabs. Recent polls indicate a tightening race between Biden and 45th President Donald Trump in these areas. In Virginia, which has not voted for a Republican president since 2004, one poll shows a virtual tie, while another has Trump narrowly leading in New Hampshire.

The Cook Political Report recently adjusted its ratings, downgrading New Hampshire and Minnesota from “likely” Biden wins to “leaning” in his direction. At a White House meeting, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed her concern to Biden, fearing he could lose her state, according to the New York Times.

This instability in traditionally safe Democrat states poses a significant challenge for Biden’s campaign, especially in must-win states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. An expanding battleground map could force his campaign to divert resources from these critical states.

Despite these worries, Biden remains resolute, declaring at a recent press conference, “I’m determined I’m running,” and downplaying his poor polling numbers.

David Axelrod, the strategist behind Barack Obama’s presidential victories, acknowledged the potential threat, stating, “I don’t think it’s fool’s gold. I think it’s something that has to be taken seriously.” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz also noted that his state is “in play” this year and more competitive than in 2020.

Trump’s campaign has been relatively light on the ground so far, limiting his ability to capitalize on these opportunities. However, a memo reported by CBS News indicated that the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee plan to open offices in Minnesota and Virginia. Anna Kelly, a spokeswoman for the RNC, remarked, “President Trump is appealing to voters across the political spectrum, including in so-called blue states like Virginia, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and New Jersey, with his agenda to lower costs, secure the border, and restore peace through strength.”

Biden’s campaign has dismissed Trump’s efforts to expand the map, highlighting Trump’s lack of infrastructure and advertising in these states. Dan Kanninen, Biden’s battleground state director, emphasized their advantage, stating, “This election will be decided by a subset of voters in a narrow set of battlegrounds, but only the Biden-Harris campaign is investing to reach and persuade those voters.”

In New Mexico, Democrats hold the entire congressional delegation, the governor’s mansion, and the State Legislature. However, concerns about Biden’s performance persist. Brad Elkins, the campaign manager for New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, commented, “Biden can win New Mexico, but all of the data I’m seeing shows that his campaign needs to make their case to New Mexicans to ensure that happens.”

Interviews with Democrat and independent voters in Albuquerque reveal a lack of enthusiasm for Biden. Some voters expressed a desire for a change at the top of the Democratic ticket or indicated they might vote for a third-party candidate or abstain from voting in November. Patricia Benavidez, a Democrat who voted for Biden in 2020, stated she is now leaning toward Trump, citing concerns about Biden’s capabilities after the recent debate.

In Virginia, Democrats regained control of the General Assembly last year, signaling a resurgence after a Republican victory in the governor’s race in 2022. However, Biden’s allies remain cautious. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney remarked, “As much as we want this to be a blue state, this is a deep purple state, and you have to give it some attention. You can’t take it for granted.”

Concerns even extend to Democrat strongholds like New York, where a poll found Biden up by only single digits before the debate. Similarly, a recent survey in Oregon showed Biden with just a single-digit lead over Trump, indicating a closer race than expected.

Domenici sets NM fundraising record with massive haul

Nella Domenici is making waves as she strives to become the first Republican to win a Senate seat in New Mexico in over two decades. Her campaign has announced a record-breaking $2.9 million fundraising haul for the April-June second quarter of 2024, which they claim is “the largest fundraising quarter of any U.S. Senate candidate in New Mexico political history.”

This impressive sum was raised by Domenici’s Senate campaign and its associated joint fundraising committees, and the figures were shared exclusively with Fox News on Friday.

New Mexico hasn’t seen a Republican Senate victory since Sen. Pete Domenici, Nella’s father, was re-elected to his sixth term in 2002. Now, Nella Domenici is determined to end this long-standing losing streak for the GOP.

“The momentum is growing, the movement is building, and our state is ready for new leadership,” Domenici said in a statement. “New Mexico is at a tipping point and I’m grateful to all of those who are rallying behind our campaign to demand more for our state and our nation.”

Domenici’s latest fundraising total is more than double the $1.25 million she raised in the first quarter of 2024. Her campaign also reported having over $2 million in cash on hand at the beginning of July.

Using her strong political brand and name recognition, Domenici is challenging Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich, who is seeking his third six-year term. Heinrich raised $1.5 million in the first quarter of the year but has yet to announce his second-quarter fundraising results.

Domenici is leveraging her extensive experience in the finance industry, having held significant positions at Bridgewater Associates, Credit Suisse, and Citadel Investment Group, to bolster her campaign against Heinrich.

In recent years, New Mexico has shifted from a battleground state to a more reliably blue state. Heinrich won re-election in 2018 by over 30 points, and Joe Biden carried the state by 11 points in 2020.

However, the political climate may be shifting. Following Biden’s lackluster performance in a recent debate with 45th President Trump, there have been increasing calls within his own party for Biden to reconsider his re-election bid. This turmoil presents an opportunity for the GOP to make gains in New Mexico and other states.

Internal Democratic polling conducted after the debate suggests a tightening race in New Mexico, indicating a potentially competitive Senate race on the horizon. One leaked Democrat poll shows Trump is leading Biden by 0.5 percent in the Land of Enchantment.

Alec Baldwin walks free after judge abruptly tosses manslaughter case

On Friday, in a shocking turn of events, District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer dismissed the involuntary manslaughter case against actor and producer Alec Baldwin after finding that crucial evidence had been withheld by the state. This evidence could have provided clarity on how live rounds ended up on the “Rust” film set, where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot.

The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning Baldwin cannot be prosecuted again for this incident. Baldwin, who faced up to 18 months in prison if convicted, wept as Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer announced the decision. “There is no way for the court to right this wrong,” she said.

The trial had been a dramatic affair. Baldwin was accused of involuntary manslaughter after a gun he was rehearsing with discharged a live round, despite being told it was “cold” and should not have been able to fire. The shooting occurred in 2021, resulting in Hutchins’ death.

The dismissal came after an unexpected turn of events in the courtroom. A manila envelope containing previously unexamined evidence was introduced. Judge Marlowe Sommer donned blue latex gloves, opened the envelope with scissors, and examined the ammunition inside.

Baldwin’s lawyers argued that the state had failed to disclose this evidence, which had been requested during the discovery phase. “They buried it,” said Baldwin’s lawyer, Luke Nikas, accusing the state of hiding the evidence under a different case number.

This non-disclosure presented a significant legal issue, as the state is obligated to provide all key evidence to the defense. The judge’s ruling lifted a considerable burden from Baldwin, whose life and career had been overshadowed by the potential for criminal liability for nearly three years.

Baldwin has consistently denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death, stating he had no reason to believe the gun was loaded with live ammunition. Live rounds are typically banned on film sets, and witnesses confirmed the gun was declared “cold.”

Throughout the trial, Baldwin’s defense team had sought to dismiss the case, challenging various aspects, including the grand jury proceedings and the FBI’s testing of the gun. All attempts were initially rejected until this critical evidence came to light.

During a tense hearing, Baldwin’s defense argued that the withheld evidence deprived them of the chance to build a proper defense, particularly on the crucial question of how live rounds ended up on the set of “Rust.” The lead prosecutor, Kari T. Morrissey, blamed the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, for the live rounds, which Gutierrez-Reed denied. Gutierrez-Reed was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for loading the live round and is serving an 18-month sentence.

The new evidence came from Troy Teske, a friend of Gutierrez-Reed’s stepfather, Thell Reed, a well-known Hollywood armorer. Teske, a retired police officer, had turned over some ammunition to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, believing it was related to the case. The crime scene technician, Marissa Poppell, testified that she saved the ammunition but filed it under a different case number.

Despite the prosecutor’s initial assertion that the ammunition was irrelevant, Judge Marlowe Sommer’s examination revealed that at least one round resembled the live rounds found on the set. This prompted the judge to send the jury home for the weekend.

The prosecutor admitted she had not seen all the ammunition provided by Teske in person. This oversight led to a significant twist in the case, ultimately resulting in the dismissal.

Baldwin’s case has seen many developments. Initially charged in January 2023, the manslaughter charge was downgraded due to a legal technicality, and a mandatory five-year prison sentence was reduced to a maximum of 18 months. The special prosecutor resigned after Baldwin’s lawyers challenged her dual role as a state lawmaker, and a new prosecution team temporarily dismissed the charges before deciding to proceed with a grand jury.

The investigation has faced criticism, notably from Robert Shilling, a former chief of the New Mexico State Police, who condemned the initial handling of the case by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

As the potential for dismissal became apparent, Baldwin seemed to relax after two intense days of trial. He shared a moment of relief with his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, and his brother, Stephen Baldwin, in the courtroom.

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