NM Supreme Court throws out Couy Griffin’s appeal

By: - November 15, 2022 2:48 pm

Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin was among a few dozen people, many of them members of a violent extremist organization, at a ‘Justice for J6’ rally at the Arizona capital in Phoenix in September 2021. (Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy / Arizona Mirror)

Former 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.”

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.”

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.