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  1. #1
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Should a witness to an incident serve on an appeals committee?

    In current discussion of the Ivanov-Beaumont draw in the Victorian Championships reserves, I have just been involved in a shoutbox exchange in which a member of the appeals committee has tried to pull the old "I was there, I saw it, you weren't there" type line against my arguments. The argument is invalid because even the public accounts of those who were there do not support the interpretations this witness/appeals committee member has given, but it got me thinking about a more general principle.

    (For those who missed the discussion, see posts 29 onwards here. What happened is that a clearcut threefold repetition occurred after Beaumont's move, and Ivanov said either "draw" or "it's draw", apparently not in the presence of an appointed arbiter, the TD removed the clock, and Ivanov commenced moving pieces around to analyse. Beaumont appealled claiming that (i) the draw was not validly claimed (ii) touchmove should apply to the first "move" Ivanov made in the analysis, which was a massive blunder. The appeal committee upheld (i) and dismissed (ii) and the game would have been resumed days later but both players agreed to draw instead of resuming.)

    The shoutbox discussion caused me to wonder: under ideal circumstances, should a player who witnesses an incident serve on an appeals committee relating to that incident? Or should they recuse themselves on the grounds that their situation as a witness means they have preconceptions about the matter and therefore should not rule on it?

    In the normal justice system, suppose a judge witnessed an alleged crime. A ruling was made concerning the crime and the defendant, having been found guilty, then appealled claiming that the prosecution had employed invalid procedures. Would that judge then be willing to hear an appeal against the original verdict? Such a judge has knowledge and views of relevant facts that may be the subject of dispute; these may colour their appreciation of the arguments so therefore they should not hear the case. I understand that in the US that would be a compulsory recusal and I'd be surprised if it wasn't here as well.

    I realise that in chess situations sometimes there are so few willing and capable potential appeals committee members that there is no alternative but to appoint someone who was also a witness. Furthermore sometimes there is an incident that practically every player in the tournament witnesses; short of recruiting someone from outside the tournament, what can you do?

    But as a general principle I propose the following:

    A player who was a witness to an incident should not be invited, and should not accept invitation, to serve on a disputes committee regarding that incident. They should instead indicate their willingness to provide evidence to the committee if required.

    I invite comments.
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 15-10-2009 at 12:33 AM.
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  2. #2
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    In current discussion of the Ivanov-Beaumont draw in the Victorian Championships reserves, I have just been involved in a shoutbox exchange in which a member of the appeals committee has tried to pull the old "I was there, I saw it, you weren't there" type line against my arguments. The argument is invalid because even the public accounts of those who were there do not support the interpretations this witness/appeals committee member has given, but it got me thinking about a more general principle.

    (For those who missed the discussion, see posts 29 onwards here. What happened is that a clearcut threefold repetition occurred after Beaumont's move, and Ivanov said either "draw" or "it's draw", apparently not in the presence of an appointed arbiter, the TD removed the clock, and Ivanov commenced moving pieces around to analyse. Beaumont appealled claiming that (i) the draw was not validly claimed (ii) touchmove should apply to the first "move" Ivanov made in the analysis, which was a massive blunder. The appeal committee upheld (i) and dismissed (ii) and the game would have been resumed days later but both players agreed to draw instead of resuming.)

    The shoutbox discussion caused me to wonder: under ideal circumstances, should a player who witnesses an incident serve on an appeals committee relating to that incident? Or should they recuse themselves on the grounds that their situation as a witness means they have preconceptions about the matter and therefore should not rule on it?

    In the normal justice system, suppose a judge witnessed an alleged crime. A ruling was made concerning the crime and the defendant, having been found guilty, then appealled claiming that the prosecution had employed invalid procedures. Would that judge then be willing to hear an appeal against the original verdict? Such a judge has knowledge and views of relevant facts that may be the subject of dispute; these may colour their appreciation of the arguments so therefore they should not hear the case. I understand that in the US that would be a compulsory recusal and I'd be surprised if it wasn't here as well.

    I realise that in chess situations sometimes there are so few willing and capable potential appeals committee members that there is no alternative but to appoint someone who was also a witness. Furthermore sometimes there is an incident that practically every player in the tournament witnesses; short of recruiting someone from outside the tournament, what can you do?

    But as a general principle I propose the following:

    A player who was a witness to an incident should not be invited, and should not accept invitation, to serve on a disputes committee regarding that incident. They should instead indicate their willingness to provide evidence to the committee if required.

    I invite comments.
    It seems quite fair and logical to me! However, aren't dispute committees pre-appointed though? On the other hand it creates problems if, say, it happens in one of the last games to finish, you know time pressure, nerves etc, and dispute committee members are there watching with other player/spectators. How are you going to establish a knowledgeable committee if simply there aren't any appropriate (not witnessing) people available.
    Additionally, the next round could, hypothetically, be starting in say half hour or even less as it has happened in many weekenders!
    To come back to your original proposal: I like it!
    Last edited by ER; 15-10-2009 at 03:11 AM.
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  3. #3
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Some events (e.g. a player's bad behaviour) could conceivably be seen by all players in a venue. Would this mean that there would be no people able to sit on an appeals committee?

    In the regular court system, its presumably common for jury members to have been exposed to media speculation about a case. How do they handle that situation?
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  4. #4
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    I was once on an Appeals Committee for something I had witnessed and considered whether I should decline to be involved. In deciding that I should continue I took into account that

    - having people evading responsibility might be a worse look than witnesses being on the committee.

    - there was no real dispute about what happened, just what to do about it, so I wouldn't need to judge my own evidence

    - none of the parties complained.

    If either of the last two points were different I probably would have stepped down. Though in practice it may not be so easy to get someone else and in the requisite time frame, as opposed to the real-world legal system where you just list it with another judge in six months (and also where you have to be ultra-sensitive about proprieties because the stakes are so much higher).

  5. #5
    CC Grandmaster Desmond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Snail King
    Some events (e.g. a player's bad behaviour) could conceivably be seen by all players in a venue. Would this mean that there would be no people able to sit on an appeals committee?

    In the regular court system, its presumably common for jury members to have been exposed to media speculation about a case. How do they handle that situation?
    I thought part of the jury selection process was actually to avoid selecting such people. Sure, in very high profile cases this might be harder but in vast majority of cases it shouldn't be too hard to find a dozen people who haven't been following it.
    So what's your excuse? To run like the devil's chasing you.

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  6. #6
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justaknight
    It seems quite fair and logical to me! However, aren't dispute committees pre-appointed though?
    Sometimes they are pre-appointed and sometimes they are appointed ad hoc when an incident arises; I do not know what was the case in this instance.

    But it doesn't really matter. Even if a committee is pre-appointed it is still possible for a member of it to decline to serve (for instance if their own game is involved or their tournament result is affected) and for a replacement to be found. Alternatively, many large events appoint an appeals committee that is larger than necessary so that if some members are absent or forced to recuse there are still enough people to hear the appeal.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Snail King
    Some events (e.g. a player's bad behaviour) could conceivably be seen by all players in a venue. Would this mean that there would be no people able to sit on an appeals committee?
    I covered this case in my initial comments ("Furthermore sometimes there is an incident that practically every player in the tournament witnesses; short of recruiting someone from outside the tournament, what can you do?")

    In the regular court system, its presumably common for jury members to have been exposed to media speculation about a case. How do they handle that situation?
    Exposure to speculation is not the same thing as being a direct witness. I know there are opportunities to screen jurors but I'm not sure if this is one of the grounds for screening in Australia. I've seen it argued that some defendants in extremely high profile cases are really deprived of any chance of a fair trial by widespread prejudicial media coverage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Rout
    - there was no real dispute about what happened, just what to do about it, so I wouldn't need to judge my own evidence
    If there's no real dispute about the evidence or its interpretation then that seems fair enough to me. For instance, if the facts are agreed and the dispute concerns the punishment.

    The VC Reserves case is rather odd because it appears that although the basic facts were agreed and the players agreed in their interpretation that a draw claim was being attempted (but one considered it was being attempted invalidly), the witness who was also on the appeals committee somehow managed to form the view that it was more like an offer than a claim.
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  7. #7
    CC Grandmaster arosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Furthermore sometimes there is an incident that practically every player in the tournament witnesses...
    In that situation you describe Kevo, I'd imagine the ruling to be reasonably clear cut given the availability of witnesses. So here I don't think that the appeals committee member should have to excuse themselves.

    But in a situation wherein the appeals committee member was one of only a few, if not just a couple, of witnesses to an incident - then, yes, they have to remove themselves from proceedings. If there is some doubt over interpretation, either of the incident or the relevant Law, then it's safer to remove the possibility of prejudice.

    That's my take on it.

    AR

  8. #8
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    appeals committee

    Lot of good points made on this issue l've got say !

    KB proposal about witness on the apppeals committee has merit but l'am not
    sure its correct answer perhaps trial could be introduce over period of time.

    Personally l'am open to any ideas to make game better !
    Perhaps do a poll and see what general consensus about this issue is .

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