NM Supreme Court dismisses Couy Griffin appeal to regain Otero County Commission seat

Jessica Onsurez
Carlsbad Current-Argus

The New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, who hoped to regain his seat on the commission after being removed, citing a failure to file a required "statement of issues" in the case.

The New Mexico Supreme Court issued the dismissal Nov. 15. In the filing, the judges noted that Griffin, represented by Melody Everett in the matter, did not meet the 30 day deadline to file the statement.

The Alamogordo Daily News could not reach Everett for comment.

Griffin filed an appeal Sept. 20, in the case which saw him removed from office by order of District Judge Francis Mathew in September. Mathew, in his decision, said Griffin violated his oath of office when participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., calling Griffin's participation "insurrection" under the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment Disqualification Clause.

Mathew's decision also disqualified Griffin from holding any elected office in the future.

Griffin was arrested on Jan. 8, 2021 and convicted March 22 of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. He was sentenced to 14 days of time served and ordered to pay $500 in restitution and a $3,000 fine. He was also ordered to complete community service and one year of supervised release.

More:Couy Griffin removed from Otero County Commission, disqualified from holding further office

The case to remove Griffin from his seat on the Otero County Commission was brought by Marco White of Santa Fe County, Mark Mitchell of Los Alamos County and Leslie Lakind of Santa Fe County, alongside The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

They were joined by several activist groups including Common Cause New Mexico, the NAACP and the National Council of Jewish Women.

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.

More:Stephanie Dubois likely appointee to Couy Griffin's Otero County Commission seat

The three plaintiffs also asked the court to expedite the appeal in an emergency filing.

"This is an affirmation that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment can and should be enforced against all the January 6th insurrectionists who took an oath to defend the Constitution, whether they are current or former officeholders," CREW Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel Donald Sherman said in statement.

"Today is an important day for our democracy."

Just days 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 Chair 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.

Griffin, during the public comment period, used the 3-minute opportunity to call Democrat DuBois a "loser" several times, pointing to her failure to achieve election in seven previous races, and the most recent loss of her appointed seat for which she was seeking election to Republican Amy Barela.

Jessica Onsurez can be reached at jonsurez@gannett.com or on Twitter at @JussGREAT.