Couy Griffin back in court to fight for his job

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin will face three new Mexicans in court Monday who argue in a lawsuit that he should be removed as Otero County commissioner for participating in an insurgency against the United States. .

Couy Griffin

Griffin, who was convicted of a federal misdemeanor in March for his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, is representing himself in the lawsuit, which has sparked interest from scholars and Nationally Recognized Constitutional Lawyers.

The lawsuit argues that Griffin violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits office holders who have sworn to uphold the Constitution from engaging in “insurrection” against the U.S. government.

The language, known as the “disqualification clause,” is part of a Civil War-era constitutional amendment intended to bar former Confederates from holding state or federal office.

Griffin is scheduled Monday and Tuesday for a non-jury trial before 1st Judicial District Judge Francis Mathew in Santa Fe.

Griffin said he was confident the judge would dismiss the lawsuit.

“They’re trying to make it look like I was part of an insurgency in Washington, DC, and insurrection is a criminal charge,” Griffin said Friday in a phone interview.

“I was not charged with insurrection because the evidence to charge me criminally was not there according to the letter of the law,” he said.

“I think if that had been the case, I would have been charged with this in United States federal court, where this case should be.”

Griffin was found guilty in federal court of entering a restricted area outside the United States Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced Griffin in June to 14 days in jail, but credited him with the 20 days he served in jail after his arrest. McFadden also acquitted Griffin of a disorderly conduct charge.

The lawsuit against Griffin was filed in March by Marco White and Leslie Lakind, both residents of Santa Fe County, and Mark Mitchell of Los Alamos County.

The plaintiffs are no less than seven lawyers listed in the court records.

A group of prominent constitutional lawyers filed a friend of the court brief on Aug. 1, saying Griffin should be removed from office.

The memoir’s authors include Laurence Tribe, emeritus professor of constitutional law at Harvard, and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Otero County commissioners in July denied Griffin’s request for taxpayer-funded legal representation in the lawsuit.

“I don’t have the money to take on those kinds of people,” Griffin said Friday. “But my hope lies in the law, and the law is available to everyone.”

The 249-page lawsuit alleges that Griffin can be removed as Otero County Commissioner for violating his oath of office because the 14th Amendment states that no official sworn to uphold the Constitution “has engaged in an insurrection against the same,” according to the suit.

Griffin was sworn in in December 2018 when he was sworn in as commissioner.

Griffin “participated in, encouraged, and promoted the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol,” the suit alleges. “The January 6th bombing and the events surrounding it constituted an ‘insurrection’ against the government and the Constitution of the United States” as defined by the 14th Amendment, according to the suit.

About Jessica J. Bass

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