First Judicial Judge Francis Mathew ordered Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin be removed from office on Tuesday, effective immediately, ruling that the attack on the Capitol was an insurrection and that Griffin’s participation in it disqualified him under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This decision marks the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a public official under Section 3, and the first time that any court has ruled the events of January 6, 2021 an insurrection.
In March, a federal judge found judge found the Cowboys for Trump leader was guilty on the charge of trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds but was found not guilty on the charge of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” as an “officer of any State” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists. Griffin, as an Otero County Commissioner since January 2019, took an oath to “support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of New Mexico, and the Constitution of the United States.”
Under New Mexico law, any private citizen of the state may file a lawsuit to remove a disqualified county official from office. A group of New Mexico residents were represented in this case by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the New Mexico-based law firms of Freedman Boyd Hollander and Goldberg P.A, Dodd Law Office, LLC, and the Law Office of Amber Fayerberg, LLC, as well as by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
“The Court’s findings that Griffin engaged in repeated efforts to mobilize a mob and incite them to violence on January 6, 2021 amply support the Court’s conclusion that he is unqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment to hold public office,” said Daniel Small of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
An eyewitness to Griffin’s behavior testified that Griffin also took on a leadership position within the mob at the Capitol on January 6th. Videos of Griffin’s speeches en route to Washington, DC for the “Stop the Steal“ rally showed Griffin’s willingness to stop, by any means necessary, a Biden presidency. In the days after the attack, Griffin continued to defend the insurrection, boasted about his involvement, and suggested a possible repeat of it in the future. Following a federal indictment for his behavior, he was convicted of breaching and occupying restricted Capitol grounds.
Click here to read the court’s decision.