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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Harvey Karp Visiting Lecturer Stephen Bright to be Honored for 30 Years of Human Rights Service

Stephen Bright, the Harvey Karp Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, will be honored Nov. 15 for his outstanding 30 years of service at the Southern Center for Human Rights. Bright, who has taught at Yale Law School since 1993 and was commencement speaker this past May, has been president and senior counsel at SCHR for the past seven years and was executive director for 23 years. He was described by Dean Robert Post ’77 at commencement as a “radiant example of humane courage and indefatigable spirit” who shows students “that the great dreams of reform, that so many students bring with them when they come to Yale Law School, are in fact real, living options.” Bright will be celebrated at SCHR’s 16th annual Frederick Douglass Awards Dinner in Washington D.C.

During his three decades of service at SCHR, Stephen Bright has earned a reputation for his zealous advocacy on behalf of people facing the death penalty and subject to deplorable conditions in southern prisons. He has twice successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases involving racial discrimination in jury selection during death penalty trials, Snyder v. Louisiana and Amadeo v. Zant. He has testified on many occasions before committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Through the example of his extraordinary dedication to the people who have been most marginalized by society, new generations of young lawyers have chosen to commit their lives to working in the public interest.

“For a generation, Mr. Bright has called on attorneys to represent the poor and the marginalized in our nation’s jails and prisons, particularly those on death row,” said Charles Ogletree, Jr., chair of the board of SCHR and a professor at Harvard. “Steve evokes the very best in us, personally reminding us of the essential obligations and aspirations of the law.”

This year’s event will include presentations about the accomplishments made throughout Bright’s leadership of SCHR, highlighting his lifelong commitment to championing the rights of the underserved in the legal system. Bryan Stevenson, executive director of Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative and former SCHR attorney, will deliver the keynote address.

SCHR is a nonprofit law firm based in Atlanta, Georgia, dedicated to enforcing the civil and human rights of those in the criminal justice system. SCHR’s work has been the subject of a documentary film, “Fighting for Life in the Death Belt,” and two books, Proximity to Death by William McFeely and Finding Life on Death Row by Kayta Lezin.

Read Stephen Bright’s 2012 commencement remarks here.