Susan "Suzy" Gerard, one of two plaintiffs who filed a federal lawsuit in October 2016 alleging a "criminal conspiracy" involving Santa Fe County judges, other court personnel, law enforcement and the state attorney general, jumped off the Río Grande Gorge Bridge March 7.
The Taos County Sheriff's Office confirmed the identity of Gerard March 9 following a recovery operation. An official report was requested March 10, but has not yet been released by law enforcement. Dispatches indicate that the incident occurred sometime in the afternoon hours of March 7.
Gerard, who lived in Santa Fe with her partner, 69-year-old Andrew Ross, was known as a prominent mental health professional in the community. Ross is a former civil rights attorney with experience in New York and Massachusetts.
During a phone interview with The Taos News March 10, Ross said that Gerard had "struggled with depression her whole life" and had expressed suicidal ideations, he said, which were preceded by at least one other suicide attempt.
"She had threatened to do this for the last few weeks. She had attempted suicide 38 or 40 years ago in California," Ross said.
Ross stated that Gerard had prepared for work as she normally would on the morning of March 7, but never went to her office.
Ross said he was in Albuquerque meeting with his lawyer when the incident occurred — Albuquerque attorney Arash "Asher" Kashanian — who has worked with the couple for the past several months on litigation against the state of New Mexico, Ross said.
Ross claimed that Gerard's demise is directly related to the stress of the high-profile legal case they have been embroiled in over the past year. He placed blame on those in the criminal justice and law enforcement systems in New Mexico.
An 89-page suit the couple filed last year, as reported by the Albuquerque Journal, alleged a "Cosa-Nostra-like judicial power structure," also referred to as a "Nuestra Familia" crime syndicate, among seven state district judges, three Santa Fe Magistrate Court judges, two court staffers, members of the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and several other prominent officials.
Ross and Gerard had obtained public profiles as a result of the litigation.
The legal action stemmed from a dispute with a former landlord who had evicted the couple from a rented home located on Camino Piedra Lumbre in Santa Fe after a "leaky toilet" was said to have gone unreported and caused significant damages to the home. Read more from the Albuquerque Journal here.
In the ensuing legal battles, actions were taken by several of the parties involved — including restraining orders issued against Ross for allegedly making threats against the former landlord, whom Ross claimed had hired a thief to steal hearing aids from Gerard to prevent her from listening to her lawyer.
When Gerard and Ross failed to overturn the eviction in court in March 2016, the pair claimed they had been discriminated against by the New Mexico court system, as well as law enforcement officers and many others. The complaint even alleged the existence of a "Lesbian Sisterhood" in the court system, whose purpose was to "ensure that any lesbian rights were held above all others."
All told, the couple sought $1.776 billion in reparations from the state for the alleged wrongdoing they say left them without a home — the number selected for its symbolic reference to the year of American independence — 1776.
But the couple's suit failed to gain traction in federal court.
One by one, all but four of the 30 defendants named as part of the alleged conspiracy have been dismissed from the case, including judges in Santa Fe magistrate and district courts, Balderas, Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia, three Santa Fe police officers, as well as others. Read the Feb. 3, 2017, report from the Albuquerque Journal here.
Though the case has consumed time and legal resources among all involved, Ross told The Taos News that the loss of his partner is another direct cost proceeding from the nearly yearlong saga of accusations, lawsuits and public fallout.