The Trial of Cowboys for Trump Co-founder Couy Griffin Hinges on the Definition of the Events on January 6

Daniella Cressman

Couy Griffin was involved in what many refer to as an insurrection during what was supposed to involve the peaceful transfer of power as former President Trump exited the office.

Unfortunately, chaos broke out as protestors stormed the Capitol.

Griffin is now undergoing a trial due to his actions on January 6—some believe he is no longer fit to hold public office—but the definition of what exactly occurred on that day is playing a central role in this this case.

"What is the difference between insurrection and protest? Expert witnesses for plaintiffs asking the court to remove and disqualify Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from office for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol spent about six hours examining that distinction Tuesday, the second and final day of testimony in the case." —Phaedra Haywood

While quite a few protests begin as peaceful, too many turn violent, and that is the key difference between the two, according to University of Maryland professor Mark Graber, who testified at length.

“An insurrection requires violence, force, intimidation...A First Amendment-protected protest has none of these.” —Mark Graber

The other key difference is that laws are broken during an insurrection.

“If, as Americans, our protests spill over into illegal actions...we are no longer in the realm of legal protest. We are in the realm of insurrection.” —Mark Graber

The truth is there was video testimony to back up the argument that Griffin was, indeed, an insurrectionist, but Griffin maintains that he was simply engaging in a peaceful protest.

"Graber’s testimony, much of it focused on key definitions of nsurrection and protest, highlighted the second day of Griffin’s bench trial in Santa Fe. Plaintiffs’ attorneys representing three men seeking to have Griffin removed from office showed dozens of video clips Tuesday — some taken by the Cowboys for Trump founder’s videographer — aimed at illustrating how he fits the definition of an insurrectionist. There were clips of Griffin using incendiary language in speeches along his way to Washington, D.C., in which he called for men to be ready to join the battle; clips of him scaling a concrete barrier at the Capitol; clips of him recounting the events to others afterwards, in which he admitted chanting 'heave ho' in unison with people attempting to physically overcome a group of police officers." —Phaedra Haywood

Griffin cited quite a few hypothetical scenarios, some involving the actions of protestors from left-wing groups he clearly did not agree with.

Joseph Goldberg rested his case on Tuesday, but the trial is not yet over.

"Joseph Goldberg, representing the three Northern New Mexico plaintiffs, rested his case Tuesday. But the trial is not over." —Phaedra Haywood

District Judge Francis Mathew said each party should file written closing arguments and proposed findings of fact for his consideration by August 29 of this year.

"District Judge Francis Mathew said at the close of testimony Tuesday the parties should file written closing arguments and proposed finding of fact for his consideration by Aug. 29. He said would make a ruling within 10 days after he receives those documents." —Phaedra Haywood

Griffin was, apparently, surprised that both parties were not going to give oral arguments, which prompted the judge to give each party the opportunity for 15 minutes of closing remarks.

While the plaintiffs declined the invitation, Griffin chose to speak: he believed he had been unfairly judged for his actions.

“I’ve sat here today, and I don’t know how many times I’ve been called an insurrectionist...That’s a very heavy word that’s thrown around very lightly because I’m not an insurrectionist. As God is my witness, on that day I only went to stand for my country, for my president and to support [then-Vice President] Mike Pence. … All we wanted was just our voices heard. We had concerns about the election. … We just want our electorate looked at, and that should not be a partisan issue...If really had the heart and the intent to cause violence, believe me, I would have blurted it out and there would be factual evidence to pin me to the wall." —Phaedra Haywood

Griffin did not provide evidence to back up his claims and there were no witnesses to substantiate his argument, but he did say he had faith in the court system and God.

Griffin also argued that his removal from the office would be a disservice to the people of Otero County since they had not removed him during a recall election which was held after the Capitol riot.

"Griffin — who only has four more months in office and has said he will not run for reelection — said in his closing remarks it would be a disservice to the people of Otero County for the court to remove him from office. He noted he was elected by the voters, who did not remove him from office during a recall election held after the Capitol riot." —Phaedra Haywood

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

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