New Mexico Supreme Court Affirms Couy Griffin Removal

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The deposed Republican Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin failed to explain to New Mexico’s highest court how he would challenge his removal from elected office, so the court threw out his appeal.

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a two-page order dismissing Griffin’s appeal of an earlier court ruling that removed him from his elected position and barred him for life from serving in elected federal and state positions.

The ruling marked the first time an elected official was unseated by court order as a result of participating in or supporting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Tuesday’s dismissal affirms the ruling.

Griffin told the Supreme Court on Sept. 23 he would appeal the district judge’s ruling.

When someone appeals a ruling to the New Mexico Supreme Court, they must file a statement that accurately and concisely explains the legal issues in the case and outlines how the courts have handled similar appeals in the past.

However, all five justices of the Supreme Court wrote on Tuesday that Griffin “failed to file a statement of issues” ahead of the 30-day deadline under the rules of New Mexico’s court system.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is one of the groups that initially brought the case against Griffin. The judge’s ruling in September was the first time that a public official was barred from office under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, according to the organization.

Section 3 of that amendment prohibits anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the government from holding elected office. The district judge cited Griffin’s participation in the Jan. 6 attack as an “insurrection against the Constitution.”

In a 42-page "finding of fact" filed in the appeal, White, Mitchell and Lakind point to Griffin's actions and words as reason to uphold Mathew's original decision in the case.

CREW’s Chief Counsel Donald Sherman said the state Supreme Court’s ruling is an affirmation that the 14th Amendment “can and should be enforced against all the Jan. 6 insurrectionists who took an oath to defend the Constitution, whether they are current or former officeholders,” he said. “Today is an important day for our democracy.”

Just Tuesday before the dismissal of his appeal, Griffin appeared at the Otero County Commission meeting Nov. 10, during which he declared himself the "duly elected and legitimate county commissioner of District 2" to a round of applause from audience members.

Otero County Commission Chairwoman Vickie Marquardt was forced to clear the Commission chambers after an argument between Griffin and Commissioner Stephanie DuBois - appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to fill Griffin's former seat erupted. A meeting to certify the election on Thursday was much more civil. 

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