Bright Honored by the Southern Center for Human Rights

Stephen Bright at SCHR

“Steve means so much to the SCHR family, and he has left an indelible mark on all of us,” executive director Sara Totonchi said.

The Southern Center for Human Rights celebrated the legacy of attorney Stephen B. Bright, at its annual May Atlanta reception, Justice Taking Root. After 35 years of leading center as executive director then president and senior counsel, Bright is transitioning from center to devote more time to teaching and writing at Yale University, Georgetown University and Georgia State University law schools.

“Steve is an incredible teacher, and his presence in the classroom will give students a front-row seat to one of the most knowledgeable and effective criminal justice advocates in the country,” said Lauren Sudeall Lucas, associate professor and founding faculty director for Georgia State Law’s Center for Access to Justice. Lucas was a student of Bright’s at Harvard Law School. She is a SCHR board member and worked with Bright as an attorney.

“As a member of the Georgia State Law faculty, I have no doubt Steve will continue to inspire students to follow in his footsteps and thus continue to have a far-reaching impact on the state of public defense in Georgia and beyond,” Lucas said.

Bright has given his heart and soul to defending the condemned, enforcing the right to counsel, ending the criminalization of poverty, and otherwise passionately and tirelessly working to realize the promise of equal justice, said Sara Totonchi, executive director.

“Steve means so much to the SCHR family, and he has left an indelible mark on all of us,” Totonchi said. “He has modeled what it means to be selfless by always putting the needs of others first. He has demonstrated the power of leading with conviction, believing in our cause, and powering through adversity to shield vulnerable individuals and communities from injustice.”

On April 24, Bright argued his fourth case before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of long-time SCHR client, James McWilliams. He previously has argued and won three cases before the Court, all challenging race discrimination in capital trials.

Bright has filed and won lawsuits across the South challenging inhumane prison conditions and violations of the right to counsel. He has successfully advocated for groundbreaking criminal justice reform measures and has been a strong voice for people oppressed by an unjust criminal justice system. Bright has been a mentor and friend to countless young lawyers concerned about injustice.

Since 1976, SCHR, a nonprofit law firm in Atlanta, has been a force for change in the criminal justice system. Its mission is to end capital punishment, mass incarceration, and other criminal justice practices that are used to control the lives of poor people, people of color and other marginalized groups in the Southern United States. The center does this through death penalty representation, impact litigation, policy advocacy and public education.



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