Couy Griffin back in court to fight for his job - Albuquerque Journal

Couy Griffin back in court to fight for his job

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin will face off in court Monday against three New Mexicans who argue in a lawsuit that he should be removed from his post as an Otero County commissioner for participating in an insurrection 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 attracted the interest of nationally known constitutional scholars and attorneys.

The lawsuit contends that Griffin violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits officeholders sworn to uphold the Constitution from engaging in an “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 offices.

Griffin is scheduled on Monday and Tuesday for a trial without a jury before 1st Judicial District Judge Francis Mathew in Santa Fe.

Griffin said he is confident the judge will dismiss the lawsuit.

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

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

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

Griffin was convicted in federal court of entering a restricted area outside the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced Griffin in June to 14 days imprisonment, but credited him for 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 Santa Fe County residents, along with Mark Mitchell of Los Alamos County.

Representing the plaintiffs are no fewer than seven attorneys listed in court records.

A group of prominent constitutional attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Aug. 1 arguing that Griffin should be removed from office.

Authors of the brief include Laurence Tribe, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard, and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

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

“I don’t have the money to go up against those kind of people,” Griffin said Friday. “But my hope rests on the law, and the law is available to us all.”

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

Griffin took the oath of office in December 2018 when he was sworn in as a commissioner.

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

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