[The following is a letter to the members of the Responsibility and Accountability Committee with a few typographical modifications by S.R. It describes serious abuses of the Hearings Committee process by members of AMC, including some associated with the present (1995-97) administration. Among other things, it illustrates that the quality of people who act in the name of the society is far more important than the formal rules, which so often act as a smokescreen for chicanery.]
This message is being sent to you in your capacity as a member of the Responsibility and Accountability Committee, and is a response to the article in InterLoc seeking input.
1) To summarize the incident, in 1992 the National Hearings process was used by politically ambitious Mensans as the culmination of a campaign to ruin Judy Dosse. Judy was not the candidate that certain AMC members had wanted to win the position of RVC7. She then asked questions about our disappearing treasury, questions that time has shown to be justified. It became obvious that she was not going to quietly rubber stamp all decisions made by AMC leadership, and due to political naivete she allowed herself to become the target of a vicious effort to discredit her.
2) The incident was dealt with by a hearing that probably was doomed not to turn out much better than it did. The months-long campaign that preceded the hearing had stacked the deck. I didn't know Judy then, but the bits and pieces of information that I was getting about the issue caused me to suspect dirty politics. When a vote of censure was put on the agenda for an upcoming AMC meeting, Judy assumed it was for her. She came to the meeting prepared to answer what she guessed the charges would be, only to find that the main charge related to a letter she had not written until after the date had been set for the vote of censure! When I heard that, I detected the odor of rodent.
I won't recap the whole hearing, but will give some examples of injustice.
Judy's accusers insisted it was an informal hearing, not subject to the same rules as a court of law. They then filibustered from nine a.m. until midnight, detailing her crimes. She asked to be allowed to answer the charges as each one was presented, as she had been assured by a letter from Liaison Patricia Meyer that she would be allowed to do. Her request was denied with the excuse that that isn't the way it would be done in court. Judy only responded to specific questions from the committee.
A charge relating to expenditure of LOTS funds was based upon a misunderstanding on the part of the accusers. When the committee determined that Judy had simply received a legitimate reimbursement of her expenses, one committee member asked why she had not notified them of that mistake sooner. The reason was that Judy had received a letter from the Hearings Committee stating she was not to send them any rebuttals to the charges. The wording of that charge, a valuable one since it related to finances, was changed to "...[failed] to respond to questions concerning her expenditure of Mensa funds..." so a guilty plea could be entered.
Ms. Meyer sent Judy a copy of the charges, but explained that the only charges that counted would be the ones mentioned at the hearing. Judy came prepared to answer the charges she had received, only to discover that some of them had been replaced with new, unexpected charges. Who could stand up under the pressure of fifteen hours of relentless accusations, particularly when they came from people one had once mistakenly thought of as friends? By the time midnight came and she needed to prepare a completely different defense from the one she had arrived with (including making eight copies of each document she intended to use), she was completely unable to work, concentrate, or even sleep. Devastated and emotionally drained (and knowing that several attendees had flights leaving in the afternoon, which would limit the time she would have to present her defense), Judy felt her only option was to throw herself on the mercy of the hearings committee and promise not to run for office again, in exchange for being allowed to keep her life membership. Dave Remine insisted that the record show guilty pleas on specific charges, and that is how the negotiated settlement came about. Judy didn't admit guilt as much as she just caved in.
The decision about which plea (guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere) would be attached to each charge was made by Dave Remine, with very little input from Judy. (On the one charge she admitted to being guilty of, which was claiming to have written a report that she actually only helped to write, they told her to plead not guilty!) Dave even wrote the "I'm sorry for the harm that I've caused Mensa and individual members" statement that the report states Judy wanted to insert.
One need look no farther than the correspondent who reported on the hearing for InterLoc to see unfairness. Bailey Hankins came out in the last election in support of Dave Remine, the same Dave Remine who has been called by one politically astute Mensan, "The engineer in the railroading of Judy Dosse." Hankins' report characterized Judy's defenders as "a tiny segment," and said "her quaint little band of muddled munchkins" continued "their gibbering, squeaking and frantic flopping about" after the hearings were over. And that's just what the supposedly unbiased observer (whose expenses were paid by the AMC) was allowed to say about her defenders! Another letter in the same issue of InterLoc stated, "After hearing the many hours of testimony, no rational person could have left the hearing believing that Ms. Dosse had as her primary objective the best interests of Mensa or her constituents." How could a rational person form a judicious opinion based on hours of testimony that included only the accusations, and no defense? And did no one notice the conflict of interest when the editor of the official Mensa publication that printed these letters (and no balancing rebuttals) was also one of Judy's four accusers?
3) Effects were certainly felt beyond her local group and region. The name Judy Dosse has become synonymous, to many members and former members, with one who is destroyed by the blatant misuse of power by those who would use the system for their own purposes. I have heard several people say to the politically aspiring, "Be careful or they will get you like they got Judy Dosse." One current AMC member even admitted to having gotten interested in Mensa politics in an effort to find out the truth about what was done to Judy.
4) There are far too many examples of irregularity and injustice in the Dosse hearing for me to attempt to address them all, but I do have some suggestions.
a) The accused should be allowed to respond to the charges as they are presented.
b) The accused should be apprised of all charges far enough in advance that a defense can be prepared. No new charges should be "sprung" on the accused at the hearing.
c) The accused should be given the same amount of time to present a defense as the accusers were given for the accusations.
d) Charges should be specific, not general. Judy received vague, rambling, incomplete, and contradictory charges prior to the hearing. When she asked Ms. Meyer for clarification of the charges, it was denied. Ms. Meyer told Judy that she would have to wait until the hearing to find out the specific details.
e) Hearings, when necessary, should be held in a timely manner. Most of the offenses Judy was charged with allegedly occurred in 1990 and early 1991. As of July 1991 she was no longer an officer, yet the hearing didn't take place until April of 1992. What possible benefit could Mensa have derived at that late date?
f) Any person who has charges filed against him or her should be notified immediately so that pertinent documentation is not discarded. Delayed notification cost Judy $200 in document retrieval.
g) Accusers should be required to attend the hearing. (One of Judy's four accusers was not present.) The absence of an accuser makes cross-examination impossible, and it makes defense against his charges very difficult, particularly when those charges are vague and extensive.
h) Accusers should not be allowed to speculate about the accused's feelings or motivation, since they can't possibly know what is in someone else's mind. Several of the fifteen hours of accusations were spent in speculation about unknowable intentions.
i) Amy Shaughnessy and Gabe Werba, two of the three members of the Hearings Committee, were members of the AMC during Judy's term and were therefore affected by any offenses committed against the AMC. Mr. Werba was specifically named as an injured party in one charge, and Ms. Shaughnessy was indirectly involved in another. It is my understanding that there is a rule in the hearings policy prohibiting anyone who is involved in the dispute from being on the hearing committee. FOLLOW THE RULES! (Do we need a special rule to require us to follow the rules?)
j) In a hearing to determine if acts inimical to Mensa have been committed, accusers should be required to prove exactly how Mensa was harmed. Judy's accusers failed to do so. (Judy's region showed an approximate 20% increase in membership the last year of her term, at a time when the rest of Mensa was stagnating or declining.)
In reference to the articles printed in InterLoc, it would seem that the guidelines for fair play relating to publication are already in place in present-day American society. If those generally agreed-to rules are going to be violated, I can't even begin to formulate a new rule that would force Mensans to adhere to them. In fact, I am amazed that I would have to make any of the above suggestions.
I never again want to hear that my Mensa dues were used for the disgraceful political persecution of a member as was done to Judy Dosse. Those responsible for the debacle should not think that the members accept what happened as just, merely because the matter is not openly discussed. Many members recognized a malodorous rat when they smelled one, and they still remember the stench.
[The chief architect of this outrage is now unelected AMC Chairman and was nominated for election in 1997. Think about it.]
Created: 22 Nov 96
Revised: 07 Dec 96
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