Stephanie DuBois V Couy Griffin, Judge Shannon Murdock ordered a Dismissal of Restraining Order Case
The New Mexico 12th Division court hosted the hearing today between seated Otero County appointed County Commissioner Stephanie Dubois which filed for a restraining order against Couy Griffin after a tense public comments session in the November Otero County Commission meeting. The Honorable Shannon Murdock ordered a dismissal.
Dubois said she made the order after an incident that happened during a county commission meeting on Nov. 10. During the meeting on November 10th, Griffin made comments towards Dubois during a public comment period. An argument then ensued between both parties, involving shouts and harsh words. Dubois said she was terrified over what happened and still fears for her life. "I'm just fearful. I'm 77 years old," she said. "It was very scary that nobody protected me."
However, the verbal quarrel wasn't the only incident that happened to Dubois according to her in several reports with Albuquerque television stations. The restraining order however only outlined the events of that day when filed.
The hearing was virtual and not an in person hearing with a judge brought in from out of the area because all members of the local judiciary recused themselves from the case or had a full docket.
The hearing was originally scheduled for December 5th to be heard in front of the Honorable Shannon Murdock. The filing of a restraining order is a serious action by a public official on a constituent even one that is a former county commissioner. The issue locally was such a hot potato with the hearing scheduled for December 5th, 2022. The state Supreme Court appointed the Honorable Shannon Murdock to preside.
The hearing was postponed then to December 15th as Commissioner Dubois requested a continuance and Couy Griffin filed for a dismissal.
The hearing was hosted virtually today, and the judge dismissed the case. The record or minutes of the case has not yet been released to the public.
2nd Life Media and AlamogordoTownNews.com requested a comment from Commissioner DuBois but her response when we asked for comment was “No.”
We then also requested a comment from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, and he provided us the following statement…
“The filing of this restraining order was purely political. I did not threaten Stephanie in any way nor did I harass her. I merely expressed my opinion that I felt her appointment to the seat in which I was elected was a disgrace. And that opinion is formed by the fact that she has run for office eight times and been unsuccessful every time she has run. She is not an elected voice of Otero County but an appointed voice of the radical progressive Governor of New Mexico. We hear daily that our democracy is under attack. Not a better example of that than what has happened in Otero County. But I’m glad it’s behind me and I appreciate you for allowing me to share my side of this story.”
The case is now dismissed. Ms. Dubois will serve in her role for two more weeks and the Amy Barela will be sworn in as the newly elected commissioner for Otero County District 2.
A side note and additional commentary regarding coverage of this saga in Otero County Politics:
Our earlier reporting on the ongoing saga of the restraining order was met with harsh attacks by some members of the Otero County Democratic machine and some members of the Otero County Republican machine. Individual members of each attacked our coverage in some social media channels some making attacks very personal to the businesses we operate. Without naming names a few went as far as cyber bullying and questioned why we took sides on the issue. A few became very hostile and passionate. Social media challenges and phone calls can be interesting. We were accused by some of only viewing the issue of intimidation of Ms. DuBois from a position of privilege as white males, (the majority owner and the publisher is a Hispanic male), we were told we were insensitive and don’t understand hostility. (As members of the LBGTQ community in a conservative county we would beg to differ.) However, to reassure ourselves that we were being fair and unbiased we had our specific to this issue reviewed by a panel outside of the county for their take on our coverage. They unanimously agreed our reporting did not show bias.
The review committee surmised that:
“The AlamogordoTownNews.com allowed for each sides point of view to be heard but did offer a valid question of rather the free speech would potentially be infringed upon by a restraining order. The AlamogordoTownNews.com site also questioned inconsistencies in the statements by those involved depending upon the media outlet. It questioned if the county saw a threat and as an employer and should it have filed a restraining order as based on court precedent a route taken by other governmental bodies?”
AlamogordoTownNews.com and AlamogordoConservativeDaily.org will continue to publish stories of the public interest. It will question official positions and actions of elected and appointed representatives when it deems it of interest to the public. Most of the coverage is not political but is of community interest related to sports, business, community interest and culture.
The political coverage does garner large readership and when Couy Griffin is involved it does seem to spark community interest and hot debate locally and from across the nation.
Will Couy Griffin continue in the public political spotlight long term, or will he seek other avenues in the private sector?
Time will tell. He will be under less of a microscope in the new year excepting for any ongoing court cases, investigations, or trials since he is no longer a public official.
The ownership and business interests of this media company also are not public officials, thus not in the public realm. They are protected by First Amendment rights and protections afforded to them via Amendment One and is supported via membership in Independent News Organizations which assist, mentor, and grow small local media companies to keep a free local press and public dialog alive and well in small rural communities.
Until the next story, let’s each have a day of positivity and prosperity during this season of caring.