Adler, Stephen J. 1956(?)-
ADLER, Stephen J. 1956(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1956, in New York, NY; married Lisa Grunwald (a writer). Education: Harvard College, B.A., 1977; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1983.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—BusinessWeek, P.O. Box 53235, Boulder, CO 80322-3235.
CAREER: In early career, reporter for Tampa Times, Tampa, FL, and Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee, FL; American Lawyer, New York, NY, 1983-88, became editor and editorial director of newspaper group; Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, legal editor, 1988-94, special projects editor, 1994-97, deputy page-one editor, 1997-99, deputy managing editor and editorial director of online edition, 1999-2004; Business Week, Boulder, CO, editor-in-chief, 2005—. Member of board of directors, Goddard-Riverside Community Center
AWARDS, HONORS: National Magazine Award finalist, 1985, for American Lawyer article on the Union Carbide incident in Bhopal; Silver Gavel Award, American Bar Association, 1995, for The Jury: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom.
The Jury: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom, Times Books (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with wife, Lisa Grunwald) Letters of theCentury: America, 1900-1999, Dial Press (New York, NY), 1999.
WORK IN PROGRESS: With wife, Lisa Grunwald, Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present.
SIDELIGHTS: After a twelve-year editing career with the Wall Street Journal, Stephen J. Adler accepted the position of editor-in-chief of Business Week, the world's most widely read business magazine. Adler, who succeeded Stephen B. Shepard, spent the first several months of 2005 working with his predecessor to accomplish a smooth transition. He is also an attorney and a former editor of American Lawyer.
Adler's first book, The Jury: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom, is a study of those twelve men and women empanelled to determine the fate of the defendants in a number of high-profile trials, such as the O. J. Simpson case. The trials focus on murders, antitrust suits, and tort suits, and include the corruption trial of Imelda Marcos. Adler, who covered these trials while legal editor of the Wall Street Journal, also interviewed jurors in six of the cases, and in his book he evaluates the outcomes of each.
Adler criticizes the freedom lawyers enjoy in accepting or dismissing potential jurors, observing in The Jury that "many of those who are removed appear to be more alert and unbiased than many who are seated." While a supporter of the jury system, he suggests changes he believes would strengthen it. He advises that jurors would benefit from receiving instructions at the beginning of a trial, not only at the end, and feels that they should be delivered in plain English. He advises that jurors should be selected randomly and be allowed to take notes and ask questions of witnesses. He writes that professionals, including doctors and the clergy, should not be excused from serving, since that practice excludes some of the most educated members of the community. It also lays the burden on jurors who may suffer a financial hardship by serving. Finally, he asserts that the use of jury consultants gives an unfair advantage to the wealthy, who also can afford the best lawyers.
Trial reviewer Jerry Palmer wrote that Adler "seems to sit as the thirteenth juror in most of these cases—smarter, wiser, less easily misled, attentive, and confident of his own perceptions in how to judge the truthfulness of a particular witness or the relevancy of evidence or argument presented." John C. Blattner commented in his Michigan Law Review assessment of the book that "perhaps the most disturbing and frustrating lesson of Adler's case studies is the degree to which juries perform poorly because of factors that are inescapably built into the system. He describes jurors who are for the most part good-hearted, well-meaning, and hard-working. They also tend to be unlearned in the law, unsophisticated in grappling with complicated, delicately nuanced arguments, and easily swayed by appeals to emotion. In other words, they are typical, run-of-the-mill American citizens—just the kind of people who are, according to the standard mythology, supposed to sit on juries."
Adler concludes that the innocence and naivety of average jurors is actually a positive, since judges can become hardened by their experiences. As Blattner wrote, "the fact that a jury was involved can legitimize a surprising or unpopular verdict in the public mind, making it harder for outsiders to come to the 'corrosive conclusion' that the verdict may have been corrupt. Finally, Adler concludes that the jury system is simply too central to our notion of ourselves as 'a government of and by the ordinary people' to abandon it for another system."
Adler and his wife, novelist Lisa Grunwald, collaborated on Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999, a collection of more than four hundred remarkable letters that provide details on historic events and the daily lives of people in the twentieth century. The opening letter is from a young mother to Jonas Salk after Salk discovered the polio vaccine. Others were written during military conflicts, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Bay of Pigs. Included is the message the young John F. Kennedy carved on a coconut after his boat, the PT-109, was sunk. A message from Carl van Vehten to Theodore Dreiser provides code words that will enable the letter-writer to acquire liquor during Prohibition. The anguish of a young Vietnam-era soldier is evident in a letter in which he tells of killing a child who was wielding a grenade. Many of the messages have great historic importance, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt's December 6, 1941, message to Hirohito, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan, begging him to cease aggression. A Publishers Weekly contributor found some of the letters, including those between poet Marianne Moore and the Ford Motor Company, in which she suggests names for the new car that was eventually named the Edsel, "delightfully funny."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1994, Gilbert Taylor, review of TheJury: Trial and Error in the American Courtroom, p. 1999.
Commentary, March, 1995, Richard A. Posner, review of The Jury, p. 49.
Commonweal, May 5, 1995, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, review of The Jury, p. 26.
Library Journal, August, 1994, Janice Dunham, review of The Jury, p. 102.
Michigan Law Review, May, 1995, John C. Blattner, review of The Jury, pp. 1363-1372.
New York Review of Books, September 21, 1995, Andrew Hacker, "Twelve Angry Persons"; March 21, 1996, Stephen J. Adler, "Just Juries?" (response to Hacker's article).
New York Times Book Review, November 28, 1999, Diane Cole, review of Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999.
People, October 3, 1994, David Ellis, review of TheJury, p. 127.
Publishers Weekly, July 11, 1994, review of The Jury, p. 68; September 13, 1999, review of Letters of the Century, p. 68.
Time, October 3, 1994, Richard Lacayo, review of TheJury, p. 62.
Trial, January, 1995, Jerry Palmer, review of The Jury, p. 95.
Washington Monthly, July-August, 1994, Daniel Franklin, review of The Jury, p. 49.*