Tom Dorsch and the Law of Libel

On Mon, 31 May 1999 09:56:49 -0400, Larry Parr (75227.3707@CompuServe.COM) wrote:

He has proven once again that he will defend anything, even an OFFICIAL FINDING -- not a letter -- even if it neglects to provide the precise section(s) of the USCF Code of Ethics Tom Dorsch allegedly violated. Once again, this verdict is akin to a jury's verdict to convict someone without citing the relevant law that was violated.

Larry Parr

Larry Parr confuses a civil case and a criminal case. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must allege a provision of a code which has been violated. In a civil case, there is no such requirement. If you sue somebody for money damages over a car accident, for example, you do not have to allege any provision of law to win a jury verdict. That is why it is called the "common law."

The proceedings by the Ethics Committee were clearly not criminal proceedings. They were civil in nature.

The previous Ethics Committee in 1997 ruled that it could not decide this case because it involved two policy board members making accusations against each other. That it why a new ethics committee was constituted in Hawaii in August 1998 to decide this matter which had already been pending for one year.

The state bar associations, the National Association of Securities Dealers and almost every other trade association conducts disciplinary proceedings all the time and they do not feel any need to cite a specific section of code. For example, the NASD would find that the conduct was "inconsistent with the just and equitable principles of trade". Most trade associations have general provisions which encompass a wide variety of types of misconduct.

Remember, I did win a case which I personally argued orally in the United States Supreme Court, SEC vs. Sloan, 436 US 103 (1978), plus I have more than 20 reported decisions published in the law books, especially pertaining to securities law, so I must know something about this.

In the case at issue here, Dorsch did not merely make his usual allegation that by being a member of the policy board, Goichberg had a "conflict of interest". In his actual Internet posting, Dorsch said that Goichberg was a "white collar criminal" because he stole money at the 1997 US Open Chess Championship in Orlando, Florida. Under the law of libel, it was not libel if one had said "Nixon is a crook", because that is too general. However, if you made a specific allegation such as "Nixon engaged in armed robbery by holding up the bank on Third and Main Street on November 13, 1952", that would be libel and Nixon could successfully sue.

I am not expressing my personal opinion here. I have researched this subject in the law books.

Thus, Goichberg would have little difficulty winning a successful suit against Dorsch for his Internet postings. Fortunately, Dorsch has no money plus Goichberg wants to promote chess and presently has not much interest in such a suit.

Sam Sloan

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