Criminal Law Society presents "Race, Poverty, Innocence & Death: Why Other States Will Follow Illinois in Abolishing Capital Punishment"
Stephen B. Bright is president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights and teaches at Yale Law School. He served as director of the Center from 1982 through 2005, and has been in his present position since the start of 2006. He has taught at Yale since 1993.
Subjects of his litigation, teaching and writing include capital punishment, legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, conditions and practices in prisons and jails, racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, judicial independence, and sentencing. He has tried cases, including capital cases, before juries and argued cases before state and federal appellate courts. He has twice argued and won cases before the United States Supreme Court, Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472 (2008) and Amadeo v. Zant, 486 U.S. 214 (1988). Both cases involved racial discrimination in the composition of the juries.
He has testified on many occasions before committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He has also taught at the law schools at Harvard, Georgetown, Emory and Northeastern. His and the Center's work has been the subject of a documentary film, Finding for Life in the Death Belt, (EM Productions 2005), and two books, Proximity to Death by William McFeely (Norton 1999) and Finding Life on Death Row by Kayta Lezin (Northeastern University Press 1999).
He received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award in 1998, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty in 1991, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Kutak-Dodds Prize in 1992, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, several honarary degrees and other recognition set out in the curriculum vitae below. The Fulton Daily Law Report, Georgia's legal newspaper, named Bright “Newsmaker (and Agitator) of the Year” in 2003 for his contribution to bringing about creation of a public defender system in Georgia.