To the editor of Newsweek :
In "Civil Wars" (Dec. 8), you present the main author, Stuart Taylor, Jr. as a reporter. He is not a reporter. He is a professional editorial proponent of dismembering the civil justice system and its hallmark trial by jury. ("I left the New York Times in 1988 and it's been no secret that virtually everything I've written since then has contained commentary-that is, opinions growing out of reporting and analysis" (Los Angeles Times, 4/23/98)). But this bias is a secret to your readers. By failing to inform them of Taylor'sagendawhere it counts-in the context of the article-and by presenting his radical views as journalism that hews to the accepted standards of objectivity and fairness, you do your readers, the good name of your magazine, and the profession of journalism a grave injustice.
This is not a trivial matter. Our civil justice system is American bedrock-not perfect, but bedrock, full of legal protections that put justice in the hands of the American people. It has served our nation faithfully and well for over 200 years, and is justifiably the envy of people throughout the world. Any discussion of radical changes should be careful, reasoned, and many-sided. Taylor instead provides a chatty barrage of personal opinion, ambiguous anecdotes and half-baked assertions that are breathtaking in their oversimplifications and false or misleading in many particulars.
I direct your readers to the Web site of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, www.atla.org, to find a point-by-point correction and clarification of the half-truths and misinformation in your coverage.
David S. Casey, Jr.
President, Association of Trial Lawyers of America
1050 31st St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
202-965-3500 x. 334 (Carlton Carl, Director of Media Relations)
Casey, Gerry, Reed & Schenk
110 Laurel St.
San Diego, CA 92101