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.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com When a public official files a RESTRAINING ORDER is that a dangerous precedent to free speech? cOUY gRIFFIN vS sTEPHANIE dUBOIS orTERO cOUNTY NEW mEXICO

When a public official files a restraining order for public comments is that a dangerous precedent to free speech?

The Otero County Commission the last several years has been the albatross of New Mexico in driving a media circus of controversy. Most of those controversies were driven by Couy Griffin while holding office of County Commissioner District 2, but the actions of the commission related to a variety of issues have raised questions and multiple court cases, a few of which have risen to the attention of the New Mexico Supreme Court and may eventually land on the docket of the US Supreme Court.

With the removal of Mr. Griffin from office, some thought civility and common sense would come back to the commission. The appointment of Stephanie DuBois by the Governor to fill Mr. Griffin’s position led to more controversy being so close to the general election.

The County Commission meeting of November 10th became a true circus of hostility and the meeting fell into disarray that again garnered national media attention to Otero County New Mexico and not in a positive light.

During that meeting, during public comments Couy Griffin went on a verbal rampage disparaging Ms. Dubois and attacking her role in the office she was appointed to calling her “an eight time looser.” Ms. Dubois felt she was verbally assaulted and not protected by the County Commission Chair nor the Sherrif is what she has stated in public comments.

Ms. Dubois told KOAT Action News; “I’m just fearful. I’m 77 years old. I don’t own a gun. I don’t have any way [to protect myself]. And for me, that thing in the room was frightening,”

According to a filing at the Otero County Courthouse, Couy Griffin is facing a restraining order from Stephanie Dubois. She’s the current county commissioner till December 31st via the appointment.

Dubois said she made the order after an incident that happened during a county commission meeting on Nov. 10. During the Thursday meeting, Griffin made a few 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. She claims she felt threatened the day the commission certified the election results when Couy was on horseback on the public street carrying a flag that said, “we the people.”

She told KOAT “Couy is on a horse, hiding behind a fire truck with a big flagpole that said, ‘We the people.’ All of a sudden, I see the flagpole moving and he comes down and puts himself between me and my car,” she said. After the two moments, the 77-year-old decided to file a restraining order, to ensure her safety and protection.

These statements to KOAT and statements she has given prior and then yesterday to radio personality Anthony Lucero of KALH radio raise questions as to the timing of events, were they as aggressive as perceived, or were they just an exercise of free speech?

Free speech can sometimes be intimidating when on the receiving end as a public servant. But unless an actual threat has been made it is hard to define what is meant as rhetoric and what is an actual threat to a public servant.

The restraining order was filed prior to the incident on horseback. There seems to be conflicting dialog and conflicting interpretations as to what occurred via the horseback incident.

Ms. Dubois did a post on November 12th that described the incident and then the description to Anthony Lucero at KALH and the description of that incident to KOAT television News seems to differ a bit.

To KALH she mentioned a deputy sheriff asked her where she was parked and agreed to walk her to her car. She then said during the interview with Mr. Lucero that “the deputy was present when Mr. Griffin appeared from behind a parked firetruck on horseback and on the public street. She claimed to Mr. Lucero in an interview yesterday that the deputy, “only went so far with me and I ended up going to the car by myself.“

Did Ms. Dubois feel intimidated, one could certainly see how she could feel intimidated by Mr. Griffin, but the question posed is was her safety at risk? It’s hard to imagine a deputy sheriff would have exposed Ms. Dubois to harm due to the personal liability and the liability to the department. Further based on experience with law enforcement in Otero County most are very responsible, professional and take their oath of office to ensure public safety seriously. I recently personally had an incident on the street with a gentleman that threatened me, the deputy at the courthouse was very protective of me and ensured my public safety from the threat. Based on my experience with the Otero County Sheriff’s Department and with the local Alamogordo Police Department it seems at odds that a sworn officer would allow Ms. Dubois to be at risk.

Even at the crazed County Commission meeting of November 10th, 2022, at 1:15.43 of the video one can witness Sherrif Black removing the microphone from Mr. Griffin and ordering the room vacated to calm the room. The Chairwoman ordered the room closed for 15 minutes for a cooling off period.

While the tone of the conversation was not “civil dialog” and was harsh and aggressive in tone, one is hard pressed to see a threat of harm to those seated on the commission dais.

Ms. Dubois via her filing for the restraining order claims, “I am an elderly woman who feels she has no protection from law enforcement.”

While her assertion that “Mr. Griffin shows a great deal of anger towards the party” she belongs is factual, the assertion that she feels she has no protection from law enforcement seems counter intuitive to the culture of law enforcement.

The filing of a restraining order is a serious action by a public official on a constituent.

The issue locally is such a hot potato that local judges recused themselves from presiding over the hearing scheduled for December 5th, 2022. The state Supreme Court appointed the Honorable Shannon Murdock to preside.

Judge Murdock has an interesting job in hearing this case. Not often does a public official file a restraining order on a member of the public due to public comments.

There is precedent in California for such a case…

Can a city restrict the conduct of a self-described civic-minded individual, with a history of flamboyant speech and dramatic behavior in his communications with the city, without running afoul of free speech rights?

In City of San Jose v. William Garbett, filed on November 24, 2010, the Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeal says yes, when the conduct meets the conditions for an injunction under Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8.

Section 527.8, also known as the Workplace Violence Safety Act, allows any employer to seek a temporary restraining order and injunction on behalf of an employee who “has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from any individual” at the workplace. For purposes of the statute, a city is an “employer.” (Code Civ. Proc. § 527.8(d).) “Unlawful violence” is defined as “any assault or battery or stalking as prohibited in Section 646.9 of the Penal Code, …” (§ 527.8(b)(1).)

“Credible threat of violence” is defined as “a knowing and willful statement or course of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family, and that serves no legitimate purpose.” (§ 527.8(b)(2).)

To obtain an injunction, an employer must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, not only that the defendant engaged in unlawful conduct within the meaning of the statute, but also that great or irreparable harm would result to the employee if the injunction were not issued due to the reasonable probability unlawful violence will occur in the future. (Code Civ. Proc. § 527.8(f); Scripps Health v. Marin (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 324, 335.)

Interestingly in the case it was not the elected or appointed individual seeking the restraining order but the city applying for the restraining order to protect its paid personnel. In the case of Ms. Dubois, she is paid by Otero County thus the county is the one that is tasked with workplace protection.

In Garbett, the City of San Jose sought 14 injunctions (and temporary restraining orders) on behalf of the city’s deputy city clerk, the mayor and city council. The city submitted evidence that the appellant, William Garbett, age 70, had a long history of grievances with the city going back many years, and that the appellant made a “credible threat of violence” toward a deputy city clerk, and other city employees under section 527.8(b)(2). In addition to evidence that the appellant regularly visited the city clerk’s office and attended city council meetings, expressed fanciful ideas, appeared agitated or angry or resentful toward the city, and had inappropriate verbal or physical outbursts, there was additional evidence that this antagonism escalated. Specifically, there was evidence that the appellant threatened a deputy city clerk by stating that his only recourse to change policy in San Jose was to act similar to that of one angry man in Kirkwood, Missouri, who a few months prior had shot and killed several people at Kirkwood City Hall. The deputy clerk, who understood the reference, reportedly felt threatened and feared for her safety and the safety of the mayor and city council. After she reported the event, the city searched the appellant when he attempted to enter council chambers and implemented extra monitoring procedures or security measures.

The trial judge granted the city’s initial requests for interim restraining orders. Following an evidentiary hearing – which included the testimony of several witnesses who had previous interactions with the appellant and two expert witnesses – the trial judge also issued 14 injunctions restricting the conduct of the appellant toward the deputy city clerk, mayor, and council.

Each injunction included orders requiring the appellant to stay 300 yards from the protected individuals and City Hall. The injunction also included specified exceptions which would allow appellant to attend public City Council. Those exceptions included requiring appellant to enter City Hall through a specified entrance, be subject to a search before entering the City Council chambers, sit in a specific row, use a particular stairway during meetings, and communicate with the City Clerk’s office by mail or proxy.

Appellant sought review of the injunctions contending, in part, that the orders restricting his conduct and movements violated his rights to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the California Constitution and represented the city’s attempt to “curtail what amounts to annoying behavior.”

The Court of Appeal affirmed all 14 injunctions including the restrictions on the appellant’s movements. The Court disagreed with the appellant’s First Amendment arguments, relying on California Supreme Court precedent establishing the right of the state to penalize willful threats to perform illegal acts, even those consisting of pure speech. In re M.S. (1995) 10 Cal.4th 698, 710.) The Court also found substantial evidence to support the court’s factual findings on the requisite elements of section 527.8, namely that the appellant had expressed a credible threat of violence toward city employees that was not constitutionally protected speech; that this conduct caused the city employees to experience fear; and a likelihood of future harm.

When the appellant protested that he did not intend to threaten anyone, the Court dismissed this argument, concluding that the defendant’s subjective intent is not required for the conduct to be deemed a credible threat under the current definition found in section 527.8(b)(2).

Appellant further challenged the injunctions on overbreadth grounds, taking issue with the limitations on his access to the City Hall building and his movements within the council chambers. The Court nevertheless upheld these restrictions, deferring to the trial judge’s view of the evidence and factual findings on the requisite elements of section 527.8, and the lower court’s considerable discretion to fashion orders aimed at preventing harm of the nature suggested by the threats.

The Garbett case establishes good law for public entities which seek to curtail repeat offenders or conduct that escalates or develops into what has been classified as more than merely annoying or unprotected speech.

The question in the case of Ms. Dubois verses Couy Griffin, does this case escalate to the level that requires such action? Did Ms. Dubois ask the County Attorney for assistance and protection?

Based on court precedent should the county be filing on behalf of Ms. Dubois or is she correct in filing a restraining order on her own?

As usual, this will be another interesting case that will draw much attention of the media both locally and on the national level. The judge in the case is in a no-win position, as whatever the outcome, there will be an outcry of criticism. Depending upon the ruling, this is yet another case, that could end up in appeal and continue to drive negative headlines to Otero County New Mexico.

Sadly, this again is another black eye to the reputation of Otero County and Alamogordo and does not show the best and the brightest of the region. This is another incident that makes the region look like the wild west verses an area of sophistication and a place that is conducive as a good business environment.

When a public official files a restraining order for public comments is that a dangerous precedent to free speech?

Based upon the case outlined above the answer is complicated at best, as the erratic individual was able to continue in his quest of expression but was required to comply with additional security measures to ensure the safety of public servants.

Otero County politics is always entertaining as we have said before. In the new year may we get past entertainment and move to a zone of civility and good governance for the good of the public.

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AlamogordoConservativeDaily.org: 3 Interesting Otero County Local Political Races: Will They Buck the Mid-Term Curse Dating to FDR?

New Mexico joined the Union in January 1912. It has participated in 28 presidential elections through 2020, alternating some extended periods of support for Democratic and Republican candidates. Democrats have now won 7 of the last 8 elections, including Joe Biden’s 54% to 44% win over Donald Trump in 2020.

Candidates Reverend Warren L Robinson veres John R Secrest lll face off for Otero County Magistrate Division One (2nd Life Media AlamogordoTownNews.com)

Locally in Alamogordo, Otero County, New Mexico

In Otero County, it appears the Republican stronghold is strong and in place and most races are a given to swing to the Republican candidate with ease. 

However, there are three races of interest this mid-term election that could be seen as competitive for a variety of reasons.

The position of magistrate judge in Otero County is typically a snooze as to what to expect of an outcome. However, this midterm election for magistrate Division One and Magistrate Division Two there are interesting dynamics at play.

The position of magistrate is one that does NOT require a law degree, and candidates typically, are individuals well embedded in the local political party system.

 The position of magistrate in Otero County has historically been made up of candidates that come from the “political machine” and as such, the position has been riddled with controversy, the last several years with political games alleged locally and via former Governor Martinez…

April 2022-

Most recently Otero County Magistrate Judge Steve Guthrie agreed to resign the Division I seat April 25, 2022, ending further disciplinary proceedings related to a judicial inquiry by the New Mexico Supreme Court which began in 2021. Guthrie’s resignation became effective April 25, according to New Mexico Supreme Court documents when the court granted a petition for permanent resignation “in lieu of further disciplinary proceedings.

In September 2021 the Judicial Standards Commission asked the court to open a disciplinary inquiry related to a slew of alleged misconducts by Guthrie. The Commission had conducted its own inquiry into the allegations beginning in January 2021. Among the allegations were improper sentences and incarceration for defendants, improper bail issuance, failure to complete required paperwork, engaging in judicial activities without proper jurisdiction, judicial misconduct and violation of a defendant’s right to due process. 

 Guthrie was censured prior to that incident in 2019 by the New Mexico Supreme Court for misconduct related to a spat he had with a neighbor.

Link to 2019 Judicial misconduct case: https://www.nmjsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2018-031-Pet-to-Accept… 

December 2017- 

Otero County Magistrate Judge Scott Newton officially resigned from the bench and withdrew his candidacy for 12th Judicial District judge. Newton said he was tired of the politics being played at the local and state level because of him taking a leave of absence due to a medical issue. Newton said he was not going to have his good name destroyed or put his family through it. “They’re attempting to use this legal absence that I took for a basis that I am unfit to do my job,” he said to the Alamogordo Daily News in 2017 “It’s a total lie. There’s nothing wrong with me. I do have my own personal health issues to deal with, but it’s not an issue in terms of being a judge. It’s just somebody wants to make it an issue. I am not going to stick my neck out there and get it chopped off. It’s just not worth it. Especially with the medical issues that I’ve been dealing with, I don’t have the energy or stamina to fight that fight or put my family through that fight.

Newton was elected to the Magistrate Court Division I judge’s seat in 2010 after Judge Richard Stokely retired from the bench.

April 2016

Otero County Magistrate Court Judge Gene C. Galassini hung his robe up in April 2016 also under a cloud of criticism.

Per the Alamogordo Daily News at the time, “Galassini, 59, decided to resign or in his case retire from the bench because of health reason but more importantly to spend time with his three grandchildren. He and his wife, Rocky, also just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary,” at the time of his resignation.

“It’s the stressful nature of the job,” Galassini said. “I’ve got three grand babies plus one on the way. It’s just time to start spending some time with them.”

He was first elected Magistrate Court judge in 2006 then took the bench in January 2007 after 23 years of being an officer with the New Mexico State Police in Las Cruces, Roswell and Alamogordo. Galassini retired as a lieutenant from State Police District 8 in Alamogordo.”

However, records with the State Supreme County show that the resignation may of had more to the story; then stress and health issues. 

The New Mexico State Supreme Court granted the State Ethics Commission’s Petition to Accept Stipulation in Light of Permanent Resignation from Judicial Office concerning Otero County Magistrate Judge Gene C. Galassini, Supreme Court Case No. S-1-SC-35791, JSC Inquiry No. 2015-074. “The Supreme Court order made Judge Galassini’s retirement permanent effective 02/29/16, forever barred him from holding judicial office in New Mexico, and unsealed the Supreme Court’s file in the matter. 

A link to the Supreme Court File and Mr. Galacini’s resignation letter is below:

https://www.nmjsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-1-Galassini-Order…

Mr. Galassini was hired in 2021 to serve Congressional  Representative Yvette Herrell as her law enforcement liaison and has been paid a salary and other compensation since appointment of $34,833.33 as a member of staff.

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The 2022 Mid Term Otero County Magistrate Matchup:

Magistrate Judge Division One has turned into a very competitive race with the Reverend Warren Robison competing against John R Seacrest III, both candidates have deep roots in Otero County, both have professional, volunteer and business experience and both have campaigned with professionalism, dignity and mutual respect with no negativity in their race for office.

Reverend Warren Robinson Experience: “Reverend Robinson has 20 years of teaching, counseling and community service in Alamogordo to include 3 years’ experience with Juvenile Justice Board helping youth with reconciliation for criminal offenses, a wide range of local board experience with non-profit service organizations, Chaplain for both Alamogordo City Police and the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, knowledge of the community business leaders and deeply involved in local history and historical preservation” according to his responses to the League of Womens Voters.

John R Secrest III Experience: “What I bring to the courtroom is real life experience and vast knowledge. I am an entrepreneur/small business owner since age 18 with 21 years in Landlord/tenant rights, business contracts, and well versed in DWI/DUI laws. I have also been a plaintiff on several appearances in Mag. Court. To further prepare, I have been mentoring with previous Mag. Judges as well as studying the NM Criminal/Traffic Law manual and NM Constitution. I am a constitutionalist, from the people for the people’s court. I live with unwavering morals, integrity, and honesty. I am UNBIASED and fair.” according to his responses to the League of Womens Voters

The League of Womens Voters asked both candidate what they would do about the backlog within the Magistrate System?  Their response was…

Reverend Warren Robinson: “Once within the system I’ll be thoughtful in listening to staff and reviewing the existing processes, then use my experience interfacing with multiple constituencies to influence process changes to end any backlog.”

John R Secrest III: “It is my understanding that Otero County Magistrate Court does NOT have much of a back log. If there is a back log it is primarily due to covid restrictions impeding the court’s ability to operate per usual and in that instance, I would say more cases will need to be handled telephonically. There is always room for improvement.”

Both candidates demonstrate a passion for community and a sense of ethics that the magistrate’s office needs to rebuild its reputation in Otero County.

Magistrate Division 2

The race is between well-known Alamogordo MainStreet and arts advocate and realtor, Claudia Powell, verses Michal Ryan Suggs, the incumbent who was appointed to the Division II Magistrate Judge’s seat Feb. 20, 2018, by Gov. Susana Martinez after Judge James Scot Newton resigned from the bench.

Claudia Powell’s Experience per her website:” Claudia Powell has been part of this community working tirelessly as a relator since 1986 serving our military with impeccable service since 1986. Mrs. Powell has received the Military Relocation Specialist designation from the National Association of Realtors, Past President Alamogordo MainStreet, Director of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, Otero County Habitat for Humanity, Past President Otero United Way and Past Director of the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts.

Michal Ryan Suggs Experience per the League of Women’s Voters: Juris Doctor- Master’s degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University, a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, 21 years law enforcement experience, 6 years adjunct professor of criminal justice and 4 years incumbent as Otero County Magistrate.”

When asked what they would do about the backlog within the Magistrate System? 

Claudia Powell: My understanding is the backlog that was created during the Covid-19 crises is now cleared. However, if I were on the bench, I would work with the staff, within the legally bound confines, utilizing my years of collaboration and partnership skills to ensure we did all within our means locally to ease any backlog.”

Michal Ryan Suggs Experience per the League of Women’s Voters: “I can proudly say, there is no backlog of court cases in Otero County Magistrate Court. The court continued to operate throughout Covid. All of the Judges in the 12th Judicial District work tirelessly to serve the people. Whatever adjustments were needed to the docket to ensure timely access to justice were and continue to be made. Under my leadership as Presiding Judge, the speedy and fair resolution of cases has been and always will be a priority of the Otero County Magistrate Court. Our rights deserve this level of experience, knowledge, and continued commitment.”

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The other race that has proven, interesting, is the race for Otero County Commissioner District Two, formerly occupied by the controversial Couy Griffin. The two candidates to win the primaries are Amy Barela on the Republican side, verses Stephanie Dubois, on the Democratic side. Both candidates won a contested primary.

The race was considered initially an easy win for Amy Barela given the district leans heavily Red and heavily conservative. However, politics, judicial rulings and an appointment by the Governor of Ms. Dubois into the seat of which Couy Griffin was removed by judicial order has created many interesting dynamics into the race.

Political scientist and pollsters watching the district competition believed it an easy win for Ms. Barella. Speculation was that there would be a backlash, due to the judicial removal of Couy Griffin, thus a wave of Republican voters activated and to the polls.

Ms. Barella has easily outraised, outspent and outpaced Ms. Dubois in advertising, door knocking and overall visibility. 

Ms. Dubois on the other hand, received an appointment to the vacant position by the Governor with swearing in to occur on 10/28/22.

Ms. Dubois has been much more visible in the recent weeks and attended several events with the Congressional Democratic Candidate and others. Yesterday in Tularosa, a Get Out the Vote event was sponsored by Ms. Dubois, and Independent Candidate Elaine Allen seeking the position for District 56 State Representative was also present.

The campaign within Tularosa has become very competitive with some rumors of foul play, but thus far the campaign has been, overall civil. 

Ms. Dubois appointment by the Governor, received a respectful response by Ms. Barella. However, the response to the appointment by the Republican Party and by the Candidate for State Representative District 51, was aggressive in tone, and filled with negatives that did not benefit candidate Barela, who has shown a level of respect and decorum during the race. 

Several independents and moderate Republicans questioned, said they were leaning toward Ms. Barela but after the Republican Party response, and that of the candidate for District 51, they “opted for Ms. Dubois.” One cited, “I’ve had enough hate from that office, Couy was an embarrassment and brought nothing but trouble to Otero County, the vigor of hate that was espoused by the Party response made me decide to break the party line and vote for Ms. Dubois,” a respected and well-known Republican that asked that his name not be used said he really likes Amy but “maybe it’s time to shake things up on the commission, and end the rubber stamping of the Steve Pierce mandates, the county budget is a mess, obviously what we have in place is not working.”

Will there be a backlash from the Republican Party response to the appointment of Ms. Dubois, will Ms. Dubois be able to elicit enough moderate Republicans, motivated Democrats and Independents to the polls to carry her over to remain in the district 2 seat? Will the curse of mid-terms and the economy play into the results of the local elections? We will know in about 2 weeks.

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The mid-term elections in most states are traditionally, a completely different animal and can lead to all kinds of unexpected results. The mid-term election of 2018 was the year of the woman.

2018, women candidate had broken the records for the number of candidates for governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives elected a record number of women, with at least 90 women expected to make their way to Washington, D.C. in January.

In 2018 Deb Haaland of New Mexico broke the barrier and became one of the first Native American Women elected to congress. Democrat Deb Haaland, the former chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, won New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in the 2018 midterms. 

Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, became one of the first Native American women elected to Congress alongside Democrat Sharice Davids, who won Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Two Native American men — both Republicans — served in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to 2018.

Expectations for this mid-term election…

It’s true that the polls have shifted somewhat toward Republicans in certain key races. On September 15, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gave Democrats a 71 percent chance of holding the Senate, as of midday Wednesday, that number is 61 percent. In other cases, forecasts haven’t changed much: FiveThirtyEight has the GOP’s House takeover chances still above 70 percent. And there have been some contrary indicators, with surprisingly good poll results for Democrats in redder states like Iowa and Oklahoma.

Yet what amounts to a relatively minor poll shift has been greeted with a sense of impending Democratic doom, for reasons mostly unrelated to the polls themselves. The bad economic news, the historical trend of the president’s party performing poorly in midterms, and the tendency of polls to understate Republicans in certain key cycles (especially Senate races) can all be read to suggest that the smart money is on the GOP to do well.

This underlying assumption that Republicans should be the favorites and will end up the favorites means that small poll shifts in the GOP’s favor get interpreted as devastating for Democrats. And that assumption could well be correct — there are good reasons to believe it. Alternatively, it remains possible the polls are basically on target, or that election night results could deliver a surprise in the other direction.

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The state of the battle for the Senate

Democrats remain the favorites in the battle for the Senate, according to FiveThirtyEight, but their advantage has shrunk in the past month. When you look under the hood of FiveThirtyEight’s model to see why, it mostly comes down to shifts in four contests:

  • In Nevada, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) dropped from a 61 percent favorite to a 49 percent slight underdog.
  • In Pennsylvania, the chances of John Fetterman (D) winning dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent.
  • Meanwhile, the chances of challengers Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina winning each dropped from about 40 percent to 27 percent.

Other Democratic candidates, like Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), haven’t seen similar drops in the past month. Kelly is a 78 percent favorite to win, and Warnock is a 57 percent favorite. In Ohio, Tim Ryan remains a 28 percent underdog.

With the Senate split 50-50, the basic math is that so long as Fetterman picks up that GOP seat in Pennsylvania, Democrats can afford to lose one seat of their own. So, they could lose Cortez Masto or Warnock, but not both. And if Fetterman loses (and no other Democrats campaigning for GOP-held seats win), even losing one Democratic incumbent would flip the chamber.

 Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania look like the most important states in determining Senate control. But there’s a problem. Only one of those contests — Georgia — has been frequently polled of late. And it’s unclear how useful those polls are, since if neither candidate tops 50 percent of the vote next month, Warnock and Herschel Walker will just head to a runoff in December.

Public polling in the other two key states has been sparse. In Nevada, we’ve gotten only two public polls conducted in October — one showing Cortez Masto up 2, and one showing her trailing by 2 among likely voters. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the two public polls have both shown Fetterman up just 2. One of those polls is from the Trafalgar Group, while another is a joint effort from one Republican firm and one Democratic firm.

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Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sweeping four-term presidency, every president has fallen victim to the “midterm curse.”

The “curse” is considered political shorthand at this point—the opposition party to the incumbent leader will wrest control of the House of Representatives or the Senate from the leadership. In fact, the sitting presidential party has lost seats in the House in every single midterm election since FDR’s first term, save for three: FDR himself in 1934, Bill Clinton in 1998 during his second term in office, and George W. Bush in 2002 fresh off a hotly contested victory in the 2000 general election. In each of these instances, the presidents had remarkably high approval ratings—around 70%—often due to historic moments that offered an opportunity for landmark leadership, such as FDR’s New Deal, Clinton’s federal budget surplus, and Bush’s handling of the aftermath of 9/11.

There are a variety of explanations as to why parties often face defeat in the midterms after sweeping the floor in the presidential election. Voter apathy and presidential approval ratings play a large part, but voters are not the only ones who sway the outcome of elections. Midterm elections are susceptible to impacts from the re-drawing of districts and gerrymandering that may occur after a presidential election and can work to disenfranchise a party’s voting block. This is not a phenomenon isolated to the U.S., either: The parties of political leaders across the globe tend to strengthen early in a presidential term before diminishing later.

With the 2022 midterm elections fast approaching, it can be helpful to look back at the past century of midterms and gauge what patterns may suggest an outcome to this year’s election. Stacker used data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the U.S. House of Representatives to visualize outcomes of midterm elections on the president’s political party in Congress.

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The President’s party has only gained seats in the House three times since 1934

The incumbent party lost control of either the House or the House and Senate six times since 1934. Only three presidents—FDR, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—gained seats in the House of Representatives for their parties at midterms.

In FDR’s case, this was thanks to his swift decisions steering the country out of the Great Depression, including the New Deal and various economic relief measures. Clinton’s second term in office marked the first Democratic president to gain a second term since FDR. Though his popularity was beginning to falter due to emerging personal scandals—including the Monica Lewinsky situation, which saw Clinton face impeachment for lying to Congress—it hadn’t yet hit the low that would follow. Bush’s midterms were a narrow race to win an easily swayed power balance, marked by gerrymandering and expensive campaigns that ultimately favored the incumbent party.

The Senate has faired similarly

Statewide Senate races are not impacted by redistricting but still often suffer the same outcome for the president’s party. For most of the 20th century, Senate races were often won by the opposite party than the state in question had gone for in the presidential race. In 1986, for instance, the “mismatch rate” of U.S. Senate races was around 59%, meaning over half of states voted into office senators of the opposite party than they had voted for president most recently. This has waned in intensity recently—particularly during Obama’s presidency—but still generally held. However, the 2022 election cycle may mark a departure from this tradition, with only 4% of registered voters claiming they planned to vote for a senator from a different party than they had endorsed for president.

Presidential approval rating is often the clearest predictor of seat changes

Midterm elections tend to be considered referenda on the party in power. As a result, the electability of Congressional members is increasingly tied to the public’s attitude toward the president. Swing seats have consistently gone to the nonincumbent party when public approval of the current president is low, and the inverse when the public believes their administration is doing well.

Since FDR’s presidency, presidents with a low public approval rating have lost an average of 37 congressional seats during midterms. Only two presidents—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—have had a public approval rating above 60% during midterm elections; consequently, they have been the only two presidents in recent history to avoid the “midterm curse.”

Voters may be motivated more to turnout when their party is not in power

Voters generally turn out in lower numbers for midterms than for presidential elections. In the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, respectively, only 4 in 10 eligible voters turned up to the polls, whereas 6 in 10 voted in the 2016 general election. However, the drive to overturn the actions of an unfavorable president can be a powerful antidote to voting apathy. A good example of this was the 2018 midterms, in which, according to an analysis by Catalist, “young voters and voters of color, particularly Latinx voters, were a substantially larger share of the electorate than in past midterms.” These voters were majority Democrats, voting in opposition to the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump. That year, midterm surge voting leaped up, and it was “clear that both mobilization and persuasion were critically important in producing this scale of victory for Democrats.”

What does this mean for 2022?

In sum, the 2022 midterms will likely follow the patterns laid out here. All seats in the House of Representatives are up for the taking and a third of those in the Senate. President Joe Biden’s approval rating—40% as of Oct. 20—is on the lower end of historical midterm rates for an incumbent president, suggesting that, if historic precedent holds, Republicans will gain seats on Nov. 8. However, some factors may exert outside influence on the midterm results. 

The Democratic Party has been experiencing the same mobilization that spurred a midterm surge during Trump’s presidency, this time regarding issues such as abortion rights and inflation. Voters in Kansas recently turned up in record numbers to vote down measures that would restrict abortion access; elsewhere in the country, local and state legislatures have taken up steps and earmarked funds protecting the right to choose in repudiation of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

On the other hand, Republican-sponsored extremists are doing what they can to stem this tide, threatening election workers so convincingly that there is a feared shortage of people to work the midterms. Moreover, one recent poll suggests that Democrats’ momentum may have begun to stall, particularly among women, who in 2018 turned out to vote in greater numbers than men

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Written by: Andrea Vale National Coverage, local coverage by Chris Edwards and Rene Sepulveda

Description: Stacker used data compiled by The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the U.S. House of Representatives to visualize outcomes of midterm elections on the sitting president’s political party in Congress.

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Couy Griffin Files an Appeal of his Ban from Public Office & Other Pending Cases Update

Couy Griffin, ousted Otero County Commissioner is by far the most prolific of local leaders to gain national attention.  He raised his profile to the national stage in creating “Cowboys of Trump” and a fire and brimstone style of ideological propaganda that the masses embraced for a period of time. Now they appear to be tiring of the rhetoric and the negative press. 

His base however continues to rally around his fight against “Santa Fe” and the “left” as witnessed by his most recent fundraising appeal which has raised $16,541 of a goal of $50,000.

From his pulpit of the Otero County Commission, he led a variety of conversations and debate, from participation in the alleged insurrection, to being an election results denier. 

Mr. Griffin gained national notoriety and took that notoriety onto the speaking circuits. His brand has been used by higher profile personalities around the nation who have profited off of his trials and tribulations to the toon of thousands of dollars.  Yet he is forced to defend himself in the judicial process.

Couy Griffin on Tuesday notified the high court of his intent to appeal. The ruling against Griffin this month from a Santa Fe-based District Court was the first to remove or bar an elected official from office in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol building that disrupted Congress as it was trying to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Griffin was previously convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, without going inside the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.

Griffin has invoked free speech guarantees in his defense and says his banishment from public office disenfranchises his political constituents in Otero County.

He was barred from office under provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which holds that anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution can be barred from office for engaging in insurrection or rebellion. The provisions were put in place shortly after the Civil War.

A flurry of similar lawsuits around the country are seeking to use the provision to punish politicians who took part in Jan. 6.

Griffin says he continues to act as his own legal counsel in the case.

“Honestly I have felt very abandoned by many,” Griffin said.

Conservative activists aligned with Griffin have urged supporters to file disciplinary complaints against the judge who barred Griffin from office.

Other cases of removal have been filed around the US for individuals that supported the events of January 6th, 2022. Mr. Griffin is the only one thus far that had a conviction related directly to activities of that day. 

The case may eventually carry forward to the US Supreme Court. Mr. Griffin’s name is nothing new to a case that may eventually come to the Supreme Court as he U.S. Supreme Court was asked to consider, via a writ of certiorari, whether a New Mexico Court of Appeals judge erred when he overturned a decision denying Couy Griffin qualified immunity in a first amendment case.

Griffin, as the Otero County Commissioner for District 2 at the time, in 2019 blocked Jeff Swanson, the Democratic Party of Otero County chairman, from his Facebook page after Swanson posted comments critical of Griffin’s performance as a commissioner.

Swanson sued Griffin and Otero County Records Custodian Sylvia Tillbrook alleging that since Griffin’s Facebook page was a public forum, that Griffin had violated the First Amendment by engaging in viewpoint discrimination. Viewpoint discrimination is when a government or a governmental entity restricts speech on a given subject matter.

The case was filed in the New Mexico 12th Judicial District Court. When the case was removed to federal court, Griffin’s motion to dismiss the case citing qualified immunity was denied.

He appealed the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals where the decision was reversed. The Court of Appeals’ opinion stated the lower court relied on “on out-of-circuit authority” in its decision.

“We reverse. The Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed lower courts not to define rights at a high level of generality when considering a qualified immunity defense,” the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision states.

Swanson petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari which is “issued in order that the court issuing the writ may inspect the proceedings and determine whether there have been any irregularities,” according to Barron’s Law Dictionary.

The question Swanson and his attorney A. Blair Dunn are putting to the U.S. Supreme Court is “Did the 10th Circuit err in reversing the decision of the District Court that Commissioner Couy Griffin was not entitled to qualified immunity after the Circuit recognized that Commissioner Griffin had engaged in viewpoint discrimination to exclude Mr. Swanson from his open to the public Facebook page where he openly discussed the public’s business that he was elected to attend to?”

The details of that filing are found at 

https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/21/21-1502/226363/20220526150143…

And in other lawsuits pending against Griffin:

Per coverage from the Alamogordo News in a story by Nicole Maxwell…

“The criminal case against former Otero County commissioner Couy Griffin, 47, of Tularosa, for allegedly failing to file Cowboys for Trump as a political action committee was scheduled to begin September 19 and was pushed back to December.

In a motion filed by Griffin’s attorney, Jonathan C. Miller, Miller noted a family emergency which would preclude him from being available for the preset date. According to court records, Miller’s mother is terminally ill.

Per 12th Judicial Judge Douglas Driggers, the case is to be reset no sooner than December 2022.

The criminal complaint filed by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on March 18 states that between Jan. 15, 2020 and March 18, 2022, Griffin “willfully and knowingly” violated provisions of the Campaign Reporting Act by disregarding orders to register as a political action committee with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, file finance reports and pay $7,800 in accumulated fines by the March 18, 2022 deadline.

Griffin pleaded not guilty to the charges during an April 1 arraignment. This case will more than likely be go to jury trial in December.”

Thus, the impact of Mr. Griffin’s term of office will continue to be under review in the judiciary at a variety of levels, for quite some time it would appear.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin Removal What is Next, Couy Upset with Sheriff Black

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin and Otero County made history today with a ruling in the lawsuit that was filed to remove Commissioner Griffin from office.  

According to today’s ruling, Griffin qualifies for removal as per Section 3 of the 14th amendment and participation in a rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States and the peaceful transition of power of the presidency.

Text of the amendment:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Interpretation is that no person can be a Senator, Representative, Elector or officer of the United States — or United States military officer, or member of a State Legislature, or a Governor, or a judge of any State — if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in a rebellion against the United States or gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. But Congress can change this with two ­thirds vote.

A History Lesson of how Republicans enacted the 14th Amendment Section 3:

This is a section of the constitution that dealt directly with the aftermath of the Civil War, section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those who had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [United States] or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from serving in the government. It was designed to keep the governments free of those who had broken the country apart. However, its effect wound up being relatively minor, that is until this trial.

Due to the obscure cases around the use of this amendment this may make an interesting case that could go all the way to the US Supreme Court as a precedent setting case. Even more interesting is the precedent this case could indeed set for future generation. The application of this portion or amendment to the constitution has not been reference or used in a case in more than 150 years. 

If this ruling stands up on appeal, it sets a significant precedent for the next election cycle,” said Gerard Magliocca, a constitutional scholar at Indiana University who has studied Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. “After all, if Couy Griffin is disqualified from holding office for his role in Jan. 6, then shouldn’t Donald Trump be disqualified for his even greater role in Jan. 6th?” Of course the difference is Couy had a conviction tied for his acts while on the “Capitol Grounds” while his conviction was a misdemeanor it was a conviction no less around the issues of rebellion or insurrection.

Magliocca said the issue could arise in a number of ways moving forward and is ripe for the Supreme Court to litigate before Trump might run for and potentially win the presidency in 2024.

Section 3 of the 14th amendment has been called “the most forgotten provision of the forgotten Fourteenth Amendment.” Congress last used Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1919 to refuse to seat a socialist Congressman accused of having given aid and comfort to Germany during the First World War, irrespective of the Amnesty Act.

Interesting fact is the amendment was drafted by Republican members of the Thirty-Ninth Congress.

Republicans when setting out the conditions for restoring former confederate states to the Union demanded, in rough order of priority, a constitutional change in the basis of apportionment (Section 2), constitutional provisions respecting the state and federal debt (Section 4), constitutional or statutory provisions limiting confederate participation in politics (Section 3), constitutional or statutory provisions protecting the rights of former slaves and white Unionists (Section 1), and a constitutional ban on secession that did not become part of the final Fourteenth Amendment.

Couy Griffin was indeed removed from office today. He claimed in a radio interview with Anthony Lucero on KALH this afternoon that he received a call from the Otero Couty Manager telling him he was “officially removed from office, that his office security code had been changed, his computer access stopped and that his no longer was a serving commissioner.”

Mr. Griffin apparently was pretty upset with Sherrif Black according to statements he made to KALH saying, “Probably the thing that gives me the most heartburn is that Sherrif David Black said yes totally enforce everything and that he stands behind this order…”

Griffin continued, “it’s a shame, it’s totally just a shame they can do this through the civil courts and a liberal judge in Santa Fe can take away the will of the people of Otero County and now the Governor is going to hand select whoever is going to replace me, for the next 3 and a half months, and Pamela told me on the phone, when I said what about this next commission meeting? She said we will do it with 2 commissioners… “

Couy still believes that the judge is outside of his jurisdiction.

Joshua Beasley the chairman of the Republican Party of Otero County, never contacted AlamogordoTownNews.com back with a statement but gave one to Anthony Lucero in which he said, “ I was hoping for otherwise, you know, January 6th was far from insurrection, there was bad behavior for sure on both sides but it was far from an insurrection but when the courts are overrun with people who are working against the will of the people it is not surprising.”

Amy Barela, the frontrunner in the campaign to replace Couy Griffin in the election planned for November of this year responded, “I don’t know what to say, my heart is broken for Couy.”

KALH also reached out to the Democratic Candidate to replace Couy Stephanie Dubois, her response was, “It is always a sad thing regardless of if we agreed with him or disagreed with him, it’s a sad thing to see an elected official to have to leave not under his own steam.”

The Oter County Democratic Chairman, Jeff Swansons response was, “those who intimidate voters, engage in in insurrections and conspiracy behaviors will be held accountable.”

What’s Next:

There are 3.5 months left in the term of Couy Griffin and at present District 2 is now unrepresented and without a commissioner. State law says that the Governor could pick a person to fill the position. If that were to occur that would be the first time that has occurred since the days of a territorial governor based on the research, we have found to date. 

Given its a Democratic Governor one would think the odds-on favorite would be Ms. Dubois to complete Mr. Griffins term. 

However, the Governor has taken a hands-off approach to Otero County when it comes to other vacancies. There is a vacancy for magistrate in Otero County that could have been temporarily filled by the governor.

A recommendation letter was sent to the Governor to fill that role with Reverend Warren L Robinson, until the November election by appointment, however the Governor has eft the position vacant to date. Will she continue that path with a hands-off approach to Otero County or will she act?

Couy Griffin is likely to appeal this court ruling. He entered this case with no representation and attempted to defend himself. Given the ruling and the precedent it could set on the national stage, odds are, representation will step up, as this case could end up eventually going before the US Supreme Court do it its very unique nature. 

How odd that a case in New Mexico of a former Rodeo Cowboy Actor, Couy Griffin, would gain such notoriety and possibly be precedent setting.  Politics locally gives new meaning to the slogans “Exclusively Alamogordo” or “Exclusively Otero County.”

To hear the complete interview on KALH by Anthony Lucero click on the news link…
https://kalh.org/news/

AlamogordoTownNews.com Judge Orders Couy Griffin Removed From Office Couy Griffin Comments

District Court Judge Francis Mathew issued a ruling Tuesday that permanently prohibits Griffin from holding or seeking local or federal office.

In his ruling on the case, Mathews contended that Griffin was not eligible to hold office because of his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

(Griffin) became constitutionally disqualified from federal and state positions specified (under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Section 3) and forfeited his current office as Otero County Commissioner effective Jan. 6, 2021,” Mathew’s ruling states. “Griffin shall be removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner effective immediately.”

We reached to Couy Griffin for comment and his response was: “It’s a great example of the type of tyranny in America today. The people in my district have already spoken thru a failed recall waged against me after Jan 6. But since that didn’t work, now I guess they have succeeded thru the civil courts and a liberal judge in a liberal county.”  Mr. Griffin in sound bites sounds deflated, understandably, via the intensity of the last year. 

The ruling is the first time that an elected official has been removed from office as a result of their participation or support for the January 6, 2021, riot. This is also the first time a judge has formally ruled that the events of January 6 were an “insurrection.”

The Courts decision is located:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/D101CV2022…

Judge Francis Mathew gave a multiple page explanation of his ruling basically saying Mr. Griffins defense was inconsistent and that his involvement with Cowboys for Trump in partnership with Stop the Steal played a pivotal role in the ruling because of its “mobilization efforts” leading up to the events of January 6th. The judge claimed that Mr. Griffins “attempts to sanitize the events” of January 6th and his other actions were “without merit and contrary to the evidence produced.”

We have reached to the Republican Chairman of Otero County and the Democratic Chairman for comment and have not received one at this time.

This is a developing story and further updates will be added as more details of the county response come to bare and that of other impacted government bodies.

Mr. Griffins position is up for election in November with favored Republican Amy Barela facing off against Democrat Stephanie DuBois.

This is a developing story and further updates will be added as more details of the county response come to bare and that of other impacted government bodies and a link to live interviews from Anthony Lucero with impacted parties in a special story to be released later today from KALH.

Stay tuned…
12:04 pm update 

Republican Chairman Joshua Beasley said he will review the ruling and submit comments later today. 

Statement from Democratic Party Chairman of Otero County:

Yes…”We will support and defend the Constitutions of New Mexico and the United States of America ensuring free, fair, and accurate elections for our citizens. Those who disrupt elections, intimidate voters, engage in insurrections and seditious conspiracy behaviors, will be held accountable by Democrats. Americans can count on us!

We look forward to serving with those Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, Declined to State, and other voters who are also true patriots. 


We await and encourage any virtuous Republicans to forthrightly take control of their party here, and put forth a far better quality of candidates, who can really work with ALL citizens to better our citizens, lands, and infrastructure.

Otero County is on the cusp of tremendous opportunities for growth and economic thriving. Far too many Republicans here, like Couy Griffin, get elected and prove to be distractions. We need a strong and vibrant Republican party here. We need an overhauled one!

High time for those true patriots and economically savvy Republicans to take charge of their party. Stop the squander!”

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Day Two Recap of Trial to Remove Cowboys for Trump Founder/Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin

Day two of the trail to remove Cowboys for Trump Founder and Otero County New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin from office proceeded today into a second day of expert testimony on why he qualifies for removal as per Section 3 of the 14th amendment and participation in a rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States and the peaceful transition of power of the presidency.

Text of the amendment:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Interpretation is that no person can be a Senator, Representative, Elector or officer of the United States — or United States military officer, or member of a State Legislature, or a Governor, or a judge of any State — if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in a rebellion against the United States or gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. But Congress can change this with two ­thirds vote.

A History Lesson of how Republicans enacted the 14th Amendment Section 3:

This is a section of the constitution that dealt directly with the aftermath of the Civil War, section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those who had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [United States] or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from serving in the government. It was designed to keep the governments free of those who had broken the country apart. However, its effect wound up being relatively minor, that is until this trial. 

Due to the obscure cases around the use of this amendment this may make an interesting case that could go all the way to the US Supreme Court as a precedent setting case. 

Section 3 of the 14th amendment has been called “the most forgotten provision of the forgotten Fourteenth Amendment.” Congress last used Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1919 to refuse to seat a socialist Congressman accused of having given aid and comfort to Germany during the First World War, irrespective of the Amnesty Act.

Interesting fact is the amendment was drafted by Republican members of the Thirty-Ninth Congress.

Republicans when setting out the conditions for restoring former confederate states to the Union demanded, in rough order of priority, a constitutional change in the basis of apportionment (Section 2), constitutional provisions respecting the state and federal debt (Section 4), constitutional or statutory provisions limiting confederate participation in politics (Section 3), constitutional or statutory provisions protecting the rights of former slaves and white Unionists (Section 1), and a constitutional ban on secession that did not become part of the final Fourteenth Amendment.

The first version of Section 3 was born in chaos. On Wednesday, April 25, 1866, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction reached agreement on an omnibus Fourteenth Amendment. The centerpiece of that text was the provision mandating black suffrage by 1876. The Republicans on that committee immediately learned from their peers that this provision would not fly. Desperate to produce an amendment by Monday, April 30 the Joint Committee hastily cobbled together a new omnibus draft on Saturday, April 28. The centerpiece of that text was Section 2, which the Republican members of the committee thought would induce former confederate states to accept black suffrage by reducing state representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College in proportion to disenfranchised males over 21. Section 2 of the new omnibus text could not be implemented until after the next census. To ensure loyal control of state governments until that time, the Joint Committee added Section 3, which disenfranchised until July 4, 1870, all persons who gave “aid and comfort” to the rebellion.

The second version of Section 3 was reared in secret. The Joint Committee’s Section 3 engendered substantial debate among Republicans in Congress. Republicans disputed how that provision would be implemented and whether that provision would be effective. In mid-May Republican Senators held a three-day caucus to resolve disputes over Section 3 (and Section 2). We know the subjects of that caucus (largely Section 3), but not the details of what was said. No one leaked then or later in memoirs. 

When that caucus ended, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan proposed, with a few tweaks, the Section 3 we have today.

That Section 3 replaced temporary disenfranchisement with a permanent officeholding ban (both federal and state) while limiting the subjects of the ban to persons who, holding certain offices, had previously taken an oath to support the Constitution. Republicans fell in line immediately. Party members responded to Democratic criticisms but did not discuss the meaning of the Republican Senate Caucus’s Section 3 or how to best implement that provision.

Republicans assumed the constitutional problems the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to solve would largely vanish once either white Unionists or a biracial coalition of white Unionists and former slaves controlled southern governments and sent loyal representatives to Congress. Section 3 would, of course, apply to any future insurrection. Nevertheless, Republicans were focused almost exclusively on preventing confederates from regaining power. They did not concern themselves with what might constitute a future insurrection once the slave power had been permanently interred.

Yet here we are today…

Yet here we are today, in a court case that’s roots are spun from the American Civil War, in a battle to define what is an act of rebellion or insurrection and to answer the question of should a local county commissioner from a small poor county in New Mexico be removed from office for participation in what most have defined as an act of rebellion against the transition of power from former President Trump to President Biden. 

Should Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner be removed from office and barred from ever holding office again per article 14 Section 3?

The plaintiffs today, called law professor and expert on the 14th amendment, Dr. Mark Graber, to the stand to outline the definition of treason and an insurrection under the amendment, and how Griffin’s actions play into that.

Griffin: In your own opinion, is that a violation of my oath?

Dr. Graber: “Yes. Again, let’s go through the elements. You were acting in concert with other people, you marched with them, that’s what the tapes clearly show. You had a purpose, to prevent the certification of Joe Biden to be president.”

Dr. Graber investigated the insurrection and Griffin’s role in it. Under oath, he shared his three big findings: January 6, 2021 was an insurrection, people responsible for writing Section Three of the 14th amendment back in the 1800s would say it applies to county commissioners, and that they would view Griffin’s actions on July 6th as participating in insurrection.

Griffin, who is representing himself, argued he went to Washington D.C. that day as a private citizen and not in an official capacity. 

Like Monday, Judge Francis Mathew had to step in to keep proceedings on track.

Griffin: Your honor…the witness doesn’t need to be trying to put what I was thinking and what I was doing, this is my time with the witness and what I was doing there.

Judge Mathew: He’s answering your question.

Griffin: He’s making accusations all the same.

Next on the stand was Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence who also helped the select House committee investigate the insurrection. She testified that Griffin was an insurrectionist.

In cross-examination, Griffin said that was her opinion.

Toward the end of the day the dialog would make Griffin appear defeated. He mentioned maybe he should have had witnesses for his side. In the end the judge will decide. Today marked the end of testimony. Hundreds of pages of expert witness findings and cross examination that were humorous at time considering the seriousness of the charges and the potential precedent of this trial.

The closing arguments are not verbal but are to be submitted to the judge by August 29th. The judge is said he will rule within 10 days of receipt of those closing arguments.

Prologue:

The most bizarre twist of this whole affair is that an alleged staunch Republican, Commissioner Couy Griffin, has the potential of being removed from office, by an obscure piece of the constitution, that dates back to the civil war, sponsored by Republicans, to protect the United States Government from Confederate leaning elected officials from serving in office. 

The joke on us, in poor, played, Otero County, New Mexico is that the average Joe American is footing much expense with this whole judicial affair; it is game of brinksmanship on constitutional theory, that could impact the lowest to highest levels of power in this nation.  

Mr. Griffin and those that filed the lawsuit are all pawns in a game of constitutional theory being played out in what could evolve into a big-league US Supreme Court, precedent setting case that could impact the political landscape of this nation for decades at every level – city, county, state and national. 

This case getting national attention and being defended by a lone commissioner without an attorney is the big leagues, playing the little guy, into shaping the Republican Party to Retake Republicanism or to allow it to continue its present course, thus allowing an evolution, of power to fill the vacuum of discontent in a way we nor our founding fathers ever would have imagined.

Some say pray for America, others say Retake Republicanism, I suggest being diligent, vote, participate and educate oneself with constitutional facts verses the false narratives, get back to civics education, actually read and understand the constitution, then diligently look at those elected and ask yourself, “does he or she actually represent the values and intent of the founding fathers and that of the constitution for which we are all sworn?” 

Let’s put ego aside and reengage in the art of compromise and citizenship and respect for one another. 

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I’m interested

AlamogordoTownNews.com Otero County, New Mexico Commission votes NOT to fund Couy Griffin Defense

The Otero County Commission met in special session for 31 minutes Friday morning July 1st to discuss a motion presented by Couy Griffin for the county to pay his legal expenses in a lawsuit filed against him for his removal from office.

The decision was made after 30 minutes of Mr. Griffin pleading his case and comments from the public. Some public comments were a bit aggressive as was Mr. Griffin in defense of his action.

After 13 minutes of dialog, the motion to vote was attempted to be called for by the commission chairwoman Vickie Marquardt at the special meeting July 1.  She then allowed Mr. Griffin to continue to defend himself in dialog and allowed a few public comments.

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt then made the formal motion for a vote after 30 minutes of dialog and seconded by Commissioner Matherly.  The meeting adjourned after 31 minutes.

The proposal to fund Mr. Griffin defense failed based on concerns of violating New Mexico’s and the County’s own anti-donation clause. The New Mexico Anti-Donation Clause states that “neither the state nor any county, school district or municipality… shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.”

quo warranto lawsuit was filed by Marco White, Mark Mitchell and Leslie Lakind naming Griffin’s participation in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. as grounds for his removal from office.

A record of the motions of the lawsuit is found at

https://dockets.justia.com/docket/new-mexico/nmdce/1:2022cv00284/473159

The actual complaint document can be found at

On Jan. 17, 2021, Griffin was arrested on a federal trespassing charge for entering and remaining in a restricted building. He was found guilty and was sentenced June 17 to 14 days’ time served, $500 restitution, a $3,000 fine, community service and one year of supervised release.

In a statement to fellow Commissioners, he denied any connection to the riot.

“This lawsuit is to remove me from my capacity as county commissioner and prevent me from running for county commissioner, too on the basis that I was part of an insurrection in Washington, D.C. in which I haven’t been charged or convicted of anything of the sort,” Griffin said.

Commission Couy Griffin said he called the meeting after Otero County Attorney R.B. Nichols declined to give Griffin a public statement as to why Otero County could not provide Griffin with legal representation in the matter. 

Nichols said that “only the Otero County Commission can issue official County statements.”

“I can provide advice to the Commission on how they should do something, but an official County position comes from the county commission,” Nichols said.

Both the law firm of Mynatt Martínez Springer and the New Mexico Association on Counties advised against Otero County providing legal representation to Griffin, Nichols said.

Griffin’s legal issues are mounting as he is also in an ongoing legal battle over orders to register Cowboys for Trump, an organization he founded, as a political action committee. 

A jury trial in the criminal case against Griffin for his alleged failure to register Cowboys for Trump as a political action committee is scheduled to begin Sept. 19. In July 2020 an arbitrator chosen by Cowboys for Trump agreed with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver that Cowboys for Trump fell under the jurisdiction of the Campaign Reporting Act and should be registered as such. Griffin and the organization were ordered to file delinquent expenditure and contribution reports beginning in 2019 and to pay $7,800 in accrued fines.

Couy Griffin as a part of his statements today mentioned, “he too was disappointed in President Trump that he was not getting support from the president but would rather have support from the county.” He claimed he had been, “fed to the wolves, referred to several members of the public as tyrannical Marxist and condemned mass media for failure of support.” He said, “he respects the decisions of the County Commission and the courts and believes God is on his side.”

The commission adjourned without funding his lawsuit.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: Otero County Commission Schedules Special Meeting to Discuss County Taxpayers to Pay for Griffin Defense

A special meeting of the Otero County Commission has been called for July 1st to discuss the possibility of Otero County taxpayers paying to defend Couy Griffin in a lawsuit filed against him for removal from office. 

Discuss and consider approval of legal representation for Commissioner Griffin in quo warranto lawsuit filed against him. https://agendasuite.org/iip/otero/file/getfile/23338

The case is 

STATE OF NEW MEXICO
COUNTY OF SANTA FE
FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
STATE OF NEW MEXICO, ex rel.,
MARCO WHITE, MARK MITCHELL,
and LESLIE LAKIND,
Plaintiffs,
vs. 

COUY GRIFFIN,
Defendant

The case was file for removal from office: “Plaintiffs Marco White, Mark Mitchell, and Leslie Lakind, by their undersigned counsel, bring this quo warranto complaint to remove Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from office and disqualify him from holding any future public office pursuant to Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and NMSA 1978, Section 44-3- 4(B) (1919), based on his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol.”

The subject before the Otero County Commission is should Otero County and its taxpayers pay to defend this lawsuit against Couy Griffin. His defenders argue yes this is filed from those outside of Otero County while his detractors argue the county should pick up the expense to defend him.

The meeting may be viewed via life stream at:

https://co.otero.nm.us/277/Commission-Meeting-Live-Stream

The question for citizens and public comments may be emailed, called in or made the day of the commission meeting is, “Is spending TAXPAYER money to defend Couy Griffin by the county highest and best use of taxpayer funds or should be fund his case privately?”

The world will be watching, as the Otero County, New Mexico Commission seems to get the attention of the nation’s press. 

What is disappointing is that attention given to Otero County by the national press is NOT for business development, quality of life, success in redevelopment, military partnerships, the beauty and attributes of the natural environment around us, but the coverage routinely evolves around political novelty of Couy Griffin and the Otero County Commission. 

Let’s hope this is a quick meeting and the commissioners get back to the people’s business of uniting the community as we inch toward the 4th of July, positive growth, business recruitment, jobs, safety and prosperity, and the health and happiness of the citizens of Otero County, New Mexico.

This too shall pass…

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Court Issued Writ of Mandamus, Commissioner Vickie Marquardt Responds, Prosecutor Adds to Couy Griffin Sentencing Dialog

The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus Wednesday against the Otero County Commission for certification of 2022 primary election returns.

During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”

Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”

The commission is meeting in special session on Friday; however, Couy Griffin is scheduled for a sentencing hearing in Federal Court in Washington DC for his role in the insurrection thus his attendance is in doubt.  Federal prosecutors are asking the court to consider the refusal to approve the vote canvass and the subsequent criminal referral to the NM attorney general as part of the sentencing considerations for Couy Griffin tomorrow.

During a special commission meeting on June 13, the group illegally declined to certify the 2022 primary election results per legal interpretation of the Secretary of State and the New Mexico Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court has ordered the county commissioners to certify the vote following a request from New Mexico’s Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Oliver explained in a statement that the three commissioners were “potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot” and are “appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories.”

Oliver also singled out the commission for offering “no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns.” One of the commissioners, Vickie Marquardt, said, “I have huge concerns with these voting machines” because “I just don’t think in my heart” that Dominion equipment can’t “be manipulated.”

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt Chairwoman of the Otero County Commission has issued a press release this afternoon stating her concerns with the election between GB Oliver and Amy Barela which is an 11-vote variance and will be forced into a recount if the election is certified. Per her press release she is now giving specific examples of what she believes to be election irregularities. The irregularities outlined however are not Dominion Machine Driven as outlined in commissions concerns but they have to do with voters who reside on properties without a dwelling so potentially fraudulent voting. Which indeed would be an issue but not the issue initially listed and solved by doing away with the voting machines. Fraudulent voting is a distinctly different issue than trust in a machine.  The story gets even more interesting and tomorrows special meeting of the commission is sure to be heated and entertaining. 

Mrs. Vickie Marquardt Chairwoman of the Otero County Commission’s press release is below…

Stay Tuned tomorrows Otero commission meeting will be entertaining in the dialog from all sides and the sentencing of Couy Griffin will both make national headlines. All eyes are again on Otero County from around the nation but not about prosperity, jobs creation and growth. All eyes are in Otero County with mixed emotions of unease questioning is the is precursor to what to expect with the November elections and what is in store for our nation of laws and a fragile democracy. 

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