Wednesday, May 26, 2004
7:10:00 PM EDT

Due Process

 

"Due Process is to be informed of the charge and given time to prepare a defense, to appear and defend oneself, and to be fairly treated." [Robert's Rules of Order]

 

"Generally, no individual should be barred from a USCF-sanctioned event for which he or she meets the advertised qualifications, without appropriate due process, and for behavior inconsistent with the principles of this code and/or the rules of chess." [USCF Code of Ethics]

 

Subj: Banning of USCF Members from USCF Events 
Date: 5/26/2004 6:21:08 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: WPraeder
To: Beatchess

 

Beatriz,

 

The USCF bylaws state "Each member shall be entitled to have his or her tournament play officially rated, to participate in the Annual Membership meeting, and to enjoy all other rights and privileges of membership not herein enumerated."

 

One of the membership rights the USCF offers in it solicitations is "The right to play in USCF-rated tournaments, over the board, on the Internet, through the mail, and by e-mail."

 

Of course only the USCF make revoke any or all of USCF membership rights and privileges following appropriate due process as provisioned for such in the bylaws and the procedures contained in the USCF Code of Ethics.

 

It has come to my attention that the right to play in USCF-rated tournaments is for all intents and purposes is permanently revoked for some USCF members at the sole discretion of tournament directors and organizers. This process is apparently referred to as banning.

 

I would be strongly against the idea that an organizer could just permanently ban someone from USCF events without proper process through the Ethics Committee. I can certainly understand the problem where a disruptive individual could be excluded from tournaments by the Ethics Committee or from USCF events that have requirements that the USCF member does not meet. The tournament director certainly retains his right to expel a player from an individual event for cause, subject to appeal by the player to the USCF Ethics Committee. If the tournament organizer believes he has a sufficient case against a player for a ban, he should present such a case to USCF Ethics Committee within thirty days of any temporary ban. Any such ban would be lifted if the Ethics Committee rejects the case or finds in favor of the member.

 

All that being said I was wondering about your views on this issue and any suggested course of action that would reinforce the idea of USCF due process for our USCF members.

 

Regards,

Wayne Praeder

 

******

"My main motive for running for the USCF Executive Board is to serve the chess community and open communication within all members." [Beatriz Marinello, 1/30/2003]

 

The way this [banning] usually occurs is that a complaint is filed against an organizer and the organizer responds by permanently banning the complainer. Further complaints will result in the organizer going to peers and having the person blacklisted. The net results are that players will have second thoughts about filing complaints against these organizers.   In this process the USCF member is declared guilty by an organizer and permanently barred from events until they can somehow prove themselves innocent.

 

I have made official inquiries and cannot get a response on this topic, so what you see here is only my opinion. I have discovered that this topic is a very emotional one with the USCF leadership (who also happen to be organizers). Of course these same organizers who are reactionary on this topic are strangely silent on the topic of Libya banning Israeli citizens from events.  

 

What I have been able to determine leads me to believe that what you read in the USCF organizations publications or rules will not be honored. Currently the USCF views participation in rated events as purely a matter between the organizer and the player. It appears they (USCF) do not want to get involved with this transaction. It also appears there are no guidelines regarding banning of players other than they must be notified in advance. I believe the USCF is not prepared to take any sanctions against an organizer for only how they treat USCF members in good standing.  

 

I'm sorry that I could not have been of more assistance. I doubt telling you banning or blacklisting does not occur as much in other parts of the country helps. Obviously I continue to be disappointed with how we fulfill our commitments and how our membership is treated. We still have a long ways to go if we wish to be a successful organization.   I strongly believe as a USCF member you are entitled to fair treatment, due process, and to have your questions answered.  

 

Regards,

Wayne Praeder

 

******

Wayne,

 

I really appreciate your follow through on the banning and blacklisting problem.  The issue is a moral one.  Does a TO have the right to be arbitrary, or does the TO have to show cause.  I think the TO has the burden of proof of sufficient wrong doing.

 

My claim is NOT that TO should never ban.  My claim IS that a TO has the burden of proving a banning offense.  I suggest the standard should be the same as suspension from USCF.

 

I realize this topic is an emotional one.  That is precisely why there needs to be an ethics code to deal with it, so that emotions do not prevail.  When emotions rule, there is a tendency for injustice.  Arbitrariness is a cancer that grows when unchecked.  Ultimately, USCF is permitting anarchy.  This is not a civil approach to problems.

 

You wrote "I have made official inquiries and cannot get a response on this topic".  This is a MAJOR part of the problem.  When a candidate for the EB cannot get a response, then there are problems in River City.  The ostrich approach to management is utterly inappropriate.

 

If this problem is not resolved professionally, though, there may be a growing tendency for TOs across the country to start the practice themselves, creating an overwhelming problem.

 

******

Illinois law generally will not support judicial interference in the affairs of associations and other social organizations. But associations are warned to follow their own bylaws and internal policies, and to provide due process in disciplinary matters, to safeguard against judicial interference.   * Howe & Hutton, Ltd