Thursday, April 30, 2009

Further Update

The Judge in Texas dismissed Chess Magnet Schools, but denied the motions to dismiss as to the other defendants.

As to the other defendants, it is game on.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still more adventures in the bizarro world of USCF litigation

There have been additional developments in the various trees of the current outbreak of USCF litigation.  Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first.

First, the obligatory disclaimer.  This is a work of opinion based on examination of publicly available information.  I do not represent any party to the litigation -- thank god.

In the Illinois action, Ms. Polgar and Mr. Truong have filed an objection to remand.  I wasn't particularly impressed with their brief, but we'll see what the court does with it.

In Texas, there was a brief discovery tiff about the documents that USCF had previously obtained in California.  Polgar moved for a protective order which was denied, so USCF in Texas now has access to all the data in the possession of USCF in California.  (Yeah, that's just a bit wierd.)

There has been further briefing in some defendant's renewed motions to dismiss.  In support of the attempt to keep Hal Bogner in the case, Paul Truong submitted an affidavit stating the following:

“I ran into Hal Bogner in Houston, Texas in December 2007 when I attended the National K-12 Chess Championship. While I was in Houston, Mr. Bogner approached me to discuss the “Fake Sam Sloan” issue, and I categorically told him that I had nothing to do with it.
Although I cannot remember the exact words used, Bogner told me that it does not matter if I had nothing to do with the Fake Sam Sloan because Bill Hall and Bill Goichberg are out to get me and my wife, Susan Polgar. He communicated that unless my wife and I resign from the Executive Board of the USCF and leave chess, our lives would be permanently ruined. He said that because the USCF controls the USCF forums, website and database, nothing I say will matter.
I asked him what that statement meant. Bogner replied that because he and Brian Mottershead have been authorized by Bill Hall and Bill Goichberg to launch the Fake Sam Sloan investigation, Bogner and Mottershead have produced a lot of evidence to “nail” my wife and me, and unless my wife and I resign from the Executive Board, this information will be slowly leaked to the NY Times, to other mainstream media, and to Texas Tech University. By the time they (Bogner, Mottershead, Hall and Goichberg) are done, Texas Tech University would want nothing to do with my wife or me anymore.  Bogner also told me that he was authorized by Bill Hall and Bill Goichberg to gain access to the Moderator and Forum Oversight Committee (“FOC”) private discussion areas, which are private and restricted areas. Even though Bogner had no standing to have access to these private and confidential chat areas, Bogner said that Bill Hall wanted him (Bogner) to find out what goes on so they (Hall and Goichberg) can keep all the moderators and FOC members in check.
Bogner said that because of his access, he knows quite a bit about what goes on behind the scene. Bogner said that he, Bill Hall, and Bill Goichberg would fight back if Susan or I challenged their actions. He added that Goichberg will not ever allow Susan to serve as President of the USCF because Susan is Hungarian and she has no idea how things work within the USCF.  Bogner also said that they have the trusted legal advice of Brian Lafferty and that Lafferty knows how to make our lives a living #### with the US Attorneys, District Attorneys, Attorney General, IRS, and the like. He implied that Lafferty will contact every state and federal agency he could until Susan and I resign.
The encounter ended with Bogner saying the following: “Don’t be stupid.  You can’t fight the system. Resign now and you can still salvage your chess business and positions at Texas Tech University. Susan can make a few extra dollars by being the spokesperson for Chess Magnet. It’s useless trying to fight this. The longer you drag this out, the worse it will be for you. You’ll end up being sorry if you don’t.’ ”


I wasn't there.  I can't say for sure what was said that day.  What follows is only my opinion. Opinions expressed by me are purely my opinions, and not those of Blogspot, USCF, or any other person or entitity.  Now, with all that out of the way:

What a crock!

This reads like dialog in a movie script so bad that Roger Corman would reject it.  People just don't talk that way in the real world.  In my 20 plus years of practicing law, I have never seen a less credible statement under oath, and the competition for that award is pretty freaking fierce.

As a reality check, I had my wife, who is also an attorney read the affidavit.  She found it sufficiently incredible that she was literally chuckling as she read it.

We are currently awaiting the judge's decision on the second rounds of motions to dismiss.

Most of the action, however, is  in San Francisco.  In the supplemental briefing, USCF revealed their much anticipated direct evidence of Polgar's involvement in the email hacking.  The anticipation of this "smoking gun" revelation on USCF forums verged on the hilarious.  Brian Lafferty was hyperventilating so much that I was begining to think he had gone directly to his computer after running a marathon.  I felt compelled to note that I had heard a lot of attorneys talk about a "smoking gun."  Sometimes it's a smoking gun; sometimes it's smoke and mirrors.  

When the evidence emerged, it was a ChessDiscussion PM from GM Polgar to Gregory Alexander.

"Thu, Apr 10, 2008, 5:58 am
BTW, I sent to the board a confidential letter about Hanken yesterday. Can you check whether Randy H forwarded to Hanken? Thanks!"

USCF has submitted a list of dates of purported unauthorized access to Randy Hough's email.   Per that list, there had not been any unauthorized access to Hough's email account since March 12, 2008.  Two days after the post, the allegedly unauthorized access happened again, and there were several more alleged hacks in the next week.

Ms. Polgar has submitted an explanation to the Court.  She claims that, because she did not access to USCF forums, she was asking Mr. Alexander to check on USCF forums and see if Hanken posted on there about her letter.

Well, it's an explanation, but there are some problems with it.

a.  The email was sent to many people, not just Hough.  Why was she asking about Hough in particular?

b.  Furthermore, how would she know if the email were forwarded?  For all she knows, Hough (or Goichberg or whoever) called Hanken on the phone, talked to him in person, or whatever.

c.  If she was asking for Gregory to check USCF forums, you would expect her
1  to say  "someone" rather than identify Hough specifically.
2  to say "leaked" instead of forwarded  
3. to specifically direct Gregory to USCF forums.

d.  Why ask Gregory to check USCF forums.  Ms Polgar may no longer have had an account, but her husband did.  Why ask Gregory?

e.  Hanken doesn't post on USCF forums all that much.

The evidence isn't a smoking gun, but it is powerful circumstantial evidence.  In my opinion, Ms. Polgar's explanation doesn't help her case at all.

A hearing was held in the SF action.  The upshot:

-- Gregory Alexander's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction will be denied.
--The case has been ordered to mediation with an experienced mediator.
--USCF has been ordered to produce documentation regarding the authorization of the filing of the lawsuit.
--The court indicated, but did not rule, that the motion to dismiss would probably be denied, but that she was inclined to transfer the case to Texas.

I think the mediation order is the most important thing to flow from that hearing.  Mediation is, in essence a settlement conference conducted by an experienced attorney trained as being a mediator.  The mediator plays devil's advocate to both sides, in an attempt to look at both the strengths and weaknesses of their case.  I'm a big fan of mediation, and, if both sides come to the table with an open mind, it is quite successful in achieving settlements.

The folks over at ChessDiscussion are all atwitter over the corporate authorization issue, having convinced themselves that USCF's attorney mislead the court.  They seem to be reading things into the transcript that I don't see, but I don't think this argument will be successful (or, as we say in Indiana, "That dog won't hunt.")  Multiple reasons:

1.  USCF has in the past, initiated major litigation solely on the ED's authority -- without board approval.
2.  The delegates ratified all acts after the lawsuit was filed against John Does in California, so the initial filing is covered.
3.  The act was subsequently ratified by formal motion of the litigation subcommittee and by EB.

We'll see.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures at

I've begun posting at's USCF/FIDE forum.  It has been quite the experience.

I was under no delusion that my opinions would be popular there.  I was under no illusions that I would "convert the pagans" as one poster charmingly put it.  I was hopeful that we could discuss some of the issues politely and, perhaps, cut back on some of the hyperbole that is so prevalent there.   I've tried to be polite and respectful -- to obey the hostess's exhortation to "be nice."

It's been a challenge.  A few observations.

1.  The exhortation to "be nice" seems to be regularly ignored.  For a bunch of people who complain about dirty politics, they are sure liberal in the use of words like "corrupt", "vicious", and "goon". They seem to be imitating the behavior that they attribute to "the enemy."

2.  They get oddly offended when asked to back up their claims.  For example, one poster referred to Randy Bauer as attacking Susan Polgar viciously.  I politely disagreed, and asked him to provide an example.  I was roundly ignored.  The claim was also been made that Bill Hall's Chess Life statement was defamatory.  Having read the statement, and having thought it was remarkably measured, I took issue with this and challenged them to point to a single false statement in the report.   Multiple folks claimed it was defamatory, but not a single poster could cite a single false word.  

Now if Mr. Hall's statement were really all that heinous, you would think they would be eager to point me to all the false statements.  Nada.  Squat.  Bubkis.  Lots of sound and fury, but no actual proof was cited.

It got worse.  The claim has been made, repeatedly, on chessdiscussion, that that Ms. Polgar was sued by USCF before she sued USCF.  This statement is factually incorrect.  They attempt to rely on statements by attorney Kronenberger.   When I went to the document that Kronenberger actually filed and posted the actual words that Kronenberger said, the post got pulled, and the thread was locked.  If people have different opinions than I do, I can live with that, but I have to confess I find it very annoying when people make incorrect statements of fact, and I am not allowed to make the record clear.

3.  For all the whining about the moderation on the USCF forums, ChessDiscussion is much more heavily moderated than the forums.

4.  My favorite chessdiscussion moment came courtesy of Albert:

"I come here to be with people who share my opinion. "

Kinda says it all, right there.