A glaring indictment of America's jury system, by the Wall Street Journal's legal editor. Reconstructing jury deliberations in six recent trials, civil and criminal, Adler illustrates how far modern juries deviate from the ideal of 12 citizens meting out justice. He reveals how lawyers use peremptory challenges to exclude the most educated and analytic people from jury service, opting instead for the ignorant, the malleable, the demographically correct. (He reports that one famous defense lawyer likes to stack the jury with fat people, who presumably lack self-control and won't demand it of the defendant.) He shows how the savviest lawyers employ market-research techniques, using focus groups whose responses, during mock trials, dictate the actual presentation in court. And Adler tells what transpired in the jury rooms, as mostly blue collar, mostly befuddled citizens were asked to determine whether a tobacco company violated the impossibly abstruse antitrust Robinson-Patman Act, and whether a byzantine flow chart linked Imelda Marcos to secret bank accounts in the US. Through no fault of their own, he concedes, jurors are guilty of ``missing key points, focusing on irrelevant issues, succumbing to barely recognized prejudices, failing to see through the cheapest appeals to sympathy or hate, and generally botching the job.'' Adler's verdict: The jury system is a wreck but salvageable—if the judiciary eliminates peremptory challenges, translates the standard legalistic jury instructions into plain English, permits jurors to ask questions and take notes, and provides ``reasonable creature comfort'' so that fewer people will seek exclusion from jury service. Adler is condescending toward the jurors he has interviewed, but his case against the system is strong, his writing is snappy, and his solutions are promising. A highly readable exposÇ coupled to a provoking argument. (Author tour)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)