On Oct. 11, 2014, the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism and The Free Press held a celebration of the life of Susan Truitt. This is an edited version of remarks made then by Peter Peckarsky.


Susan Truitt and I were co-counsel in the Ohio Supreme Court contests of the 2004 elections of both a President and a Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Susan Truitt was a force of nature, a very intelligent sparkplug with an outstanding spirit and a truly outspoken attitude. Mincing words was something Susan left to others.

She was also an extraordinarily devoted mother of three wonderful children who meant everything to her, an accomplished competitive equestrienne, a golfer, and a lawyer whose legal ethics were certified as beyond reproach in an opinion by the same Chief Justice she tried to remove from office.

There are very few people about whom it can be said, this person created a golden opportunity for someone to clear the last hurdle to being elected President of the United States. Susan Truitt was one of those people by virtue of her actions in Ohio before the 2004


Starting in February, 2004, through the organization she founded and led - the Citizens’ Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE Ohio) - Susan directed an effort to ban direct recording electronic voting machines (DREs) from Ohio. DREs are not systems with paper ballots marked by the hand of the voter. DREs produce vote totals with no necessary connection to actual votes of actual voters and no way to confirm how the voter marked the ballot because there are no ballots. The campaign was largely successful. In light of the 2000 recount in Florida, it was a great strategy to insure the ability to conduct a recount in Ohio. Due to the CASE Ohio effort, out of the 88 Ohio counties, there were only seven counties in November 2004 with DREs. In many of these seven counties relatively small numbers of votes were cast. Susan’s efforts made it possible to recount substantially all the ballots. By the way, in November 2014, 49 Ohio counties will use DREs.

By 10 p.m. on Election Night 2004 it was clear to anyone prepared who knew where to look that substantial election fraud had been committed in Ohio. The Kerry campaign did not appear prepared. 10 p.m. on Election Night was several hours before the statistical proof of election fraud was available in the form of exit poll data. By election fraud, I mean that many votes not lawfully cast for President had been included in the totals as was later admitted to the Free Press by a Republican Director of a county Board of Elections in southeast Ohio. The admitted fraud did not occur on DREs. The substantially statewide fraud could have been documented and reversed by a total recount of the paper ballots properly supervised by the Kerry campaign with the assistance of the Ohio Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee.

The opportunity Susan created for an almost total recount only had to be grasped with reasonable competence. The Kerry campaign failed to take a run at the last hurdle between John Kerry and the White House. Kerry did not ask for a recount and did not support the recount effort when the Green Party paid for it but did not have sufficient resources to supervise properly 88 recounts - one in each county.

After the Kerry campaign failed to grasp the opportunity, Susan and CASE Ohio did everything they could to enable Sen. Kerry to enter the office to which he was elected by the citizens of Ohio and the United States when they cast their ballots in 2004. There were hearings, and demonstrations, and the contests in the Ohio Supreme Court where I was lead trial counsel.

After filing the contests in the Ohio Supreme Court, we wanted direct proof of the fraud. Susan understood what had happened and knew that unless the uncertified result was reversed by either the Ohio or U.S. Supreme Court men such as John Roberts and Samuel Alito would probably be sitting for life on the U.S. Supreme Court. Susan did not want her childrens’ future and her country’s future in such hands.

The exit polls indicated what happened but did not explain exactly how and might not be sufficient to obtain a court order that Ohio’s electoral votes would go to the Kerry-Edwards ticket as intended by the voters when they cast their ballots.

We wanted records and testimony.

For the public records, we served subpoenae on county Boards of Elections.

Susan led one group through snowstorms to Boards of Elections in southeast Ohio. The group obtained some of the data we needed. The boards stonewalled a lot. However, the data Susan gathered led to the admission in 2006 by the Republican BOE Director that many votes never cast by a voter were included in the reported totals.

We wanted deposition testimony from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who were named parties in the contest and were not represented at the time by attorneys.

Following normal procedure, we placed calls to George Bush and Dick Cheney to determine when they were available. It was an interesting set of calls starting with: “Hi I’d like to speak with George Bush so I can schedule his deposition”. Dick and George did not come to the phone. So we noticed their depositions to occur in Columbus.

If Bush and Cheney, as named parties, failed to attend their depositions we could file a motion seeking a judgment awarding Ohio’s 20 electoral votes to John Kerry making him President.

To support a motion, we needed proof Bush and Cheney received their deposition notices so Susan sent the notices by certified U.S.mail. Then she contacted the Post Office a few times a day until we got the signed green cards back. There is in the archives of the contest a green card signed by Dick Cheney when he received his notice of deposition.

We were contacted by attorneys in Columbus who said they now represented Bush and Cheney. We let these attorneys know when and where the depositions would occur. They dismissively said they and their clients would not attend.

When we convened the depositions, Susan was there; Bush, Cheney, and Karl Rove were


Susan drafted a declaration confirming the deposition notices reached Bush and Cheney. Then she and many others boarded a chartered long distance bus at midnight for an overnight trip from Columbus to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress, convince Sen. Barbara Boxer to challenge the Ohio electoral votes, and hold an afternoon press conference.

Overnight, I finished the motion papers in Columbus.

Before filing the motion, we were required to consult with opposing counsel. About 8:00 a.m. I called the office of opposing counsel (the same firm which days earlier dismissively said Bush and Cheney would not attend the depositions ). A few minutes later all three attorneys called back on a speakerphone. I told them that due to the failure of their clients George Bush and Dick Cheney to appear as parties for their depositions, we were calling to ask them to consent to entry of a final judgment by the Ohio Supreme Court declaring that Ohio’s electoral votes (then due to be counted in a few hours) would go to John Kerry and John Edwards.

The other attorneys started vehemently objecting, among other things, that we could not do that, that we had not warned them, and that the remedy was inappropriate. I told them we could and would and we’d let the court know they would not consent. The motion was filed.

Susan was pleased and somewhat amused when I told her about the call with opposing counsel

when we met a few hours later in Washington.

In Washington, Susan and her colleagues succeeded where others had failed in 2000 when not one senator (not John Kerry, not John Edwards, and not Hillary Clinton) rose to challenge the Florida electoral votes. Sen. Boxer challenged the Ohio electoral votes. After the challenge lost, Susan spoke at a rally near the Capitol to which I’ll return.

While Susan was speaking, the Rev. Bill Moss, Dr. Ron Baiman, the statistics expert on the litigation team, and I met with editors and reporters in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times to explain in detail the statistics of the exit polls. Later that day Susan and I explained the exit poll statistics to CBS News. These efforts yielded a story on CBS radio, a reference somewhere in The New York Times, and an appearance on ABC’s Nightline on January 19. Since she always enjoyed a good party, Susan came back to Washington for a counter Inaugural ball.

The contests were dismissed by our clients after the electoral votes were counted. As I recall, the court never ruled on the motion which would have put John Kerry in the White House.

After the contests were dismissed, the Ohio Attorney General moved for sanctions against the lawyers who filed the contests for allegedly acting without basis. Even without anywhere close to reasonable discovery we filed over 900 pages of evidence with the court that the election had been stolen through election fraud benefitting the Republicans.

In accord with settled law, Chief Justice Moyer and Justice O’Connor, who handled the separate contest against Chief Justice Moyer for election fraud, rejected the Attorney General’s motion and confirmed that Susan and all of us acted within the law.

While the motion for sanctions was pending, The New York Times ran an editorial somewhat critical of our litigation team. Shortly thereafter, The Times, to correct the record, published a letter mentioning Susan’s role in the contest, explaining that the probability was over 99% that Ohio’s voters elected John Kerry’s electors at the polls, and noting that “The laws of statistics do not change at the United States border.”

Ecological Options Network (EON) placed on You Tube a video tribute titled Remembering Susan Truitt which I recommend to all of you. Susan’s fighting spirit shines through in the last segment which is a portion of the fiery speech I mentioned earlier which she gave at a rally near the Capitol just after the 2004 electoral votes were counted. Among the unanswered questions Susan asked that day are these: “Where is the United States of America where democracy is the way that we rule this country? What happened to that?” The speech is pure Susan - view it. And remember, mincing words is something Susan left to others.

Susan’s younger son Austen posted on You Tube a video montage of pictures from trips Susan and her sons took to Europe and elsewhere. The video includes a great picture of Susan standing triumphantly on one of the most famous bridges in golf - the bridge on the 18th fairway of the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.

Susan and I stayed in touch over the years as she moved professionally from law to education.

Some times we spoke several times a day; frequently a lot less often.


Susan called when each diagnosis was made. When she called with the last diagnosis, one

of the many things I told her was:

“Susan, there are very few people about whom it can be said, this person created a golden opportunity for someone to be elected President. You are one of those people. You created that opportunity for John Kerry.”

I hope that many fine memories of Susan will be a comfort to her family and those who knew her and I hope that as progressive efforts continue in this country and around the world to sustain and invigorate our democracy and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States those efforts and the people participating in them will be guided, energized, and inspired by the everlasting outstanding spirit of our friend and colleague Susan Truitt.