Last updated on: 11/10/2008 | Author:

Stephen B. Bright, JD Biography

Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights
Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“Do we want a hateful, vengeful society, one that turns its back on its children and then executes them, that denies its mentally ill the treatment and the medicine they need and then puts them to death when demons are no longer kept at bay…

If we here in the United States examine our own system, face its flaws, and think about what kind of society we want to have, we will ultimately conclude that, like slavery and segregation, the death penalty is a relic of another era, that it represents the dark side of the human spirit, and that we are capable of more constructive approaches to the problem of crime in our society. And we will then join the rest of the civilized world in making permanent, absolute and unequivocal the injunction ‘Thou Shall Not Kill.’”

“Will the Death Penalty Remain Alive in the Twenty-First Century?,” Wisconsin Law Review, Oct. 27, 2007

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Director, Southern Center for Human Rights, 1982-present
  • Board of Directors, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, 1996-present
  • Visiting Lecturer, Yale Law School, 1995-2000
  • Visiting Lecturer, Harvard Law School, 1994-1999
  • Senior Lecturer, Emory Law School, 1997-1998
  • Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, 1997
  • Visiting Lecturer, Northeastern University School of Law, 1996
  • Recipient, Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty, American Civil Liberties Union, 1991
  • Board of Directors, Texas Resource Center, 1988-1996
  • Recipient, Thurgood Marshall Award, American Bar Association, 1988
  • Executive Director, District of Columbia Law Students in Court Program, 1981
  • Trial attorney, District of Columbia Public Defender Service, 1976-1979
  • JD, College of Law, University of Kentucky, 1974
  • BA, Political Science, University of Kentucky, 1971

Selected death penalty cases litigated:

  • Amadeo v. Zant, 486 U.S. 214 (1988) (briefed and argued before the United States Supreme Court) (conviction and death sentence set aside due to racial discrimination)
  • Brooks v. Kemp, 762 F.2d 1383 (11th Cir. 1985) (en banc), vacated and remanded, 478 U.S. 1016 (1986), adhered to on remand, 809 F.2d 700 (11th Cir. 1987) (en banc), cert. denied, 483 U.S. 1010 (1987) (conviction and death sentence vacated due to jury instruction which shifted burden of proof on intent)
  • Isaacs & Dungee v. Kemp, 778 F.2d 1482 (11th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1164 (1986) (conviction and death sentence set aside due to failure to grant a change of venue)