Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Event Details

Annual Paul E. and Phyllis Treusch Public Service Lecture: Stephen B. Bright

Special Guest Speakers

Annual Paul E. and Phyllis Treusch Public Service Lecture: Stephen B. Bright


February 07, 2006

12:30 p.m., Louis XVI Room, Southwestern Campus

Leading Anti-Death Penalty Lawyer to Speak at Southwestern

One of the country's leading human rights advocates and an authority on capital punishment and prisoner’s rights, Stephen B. Bright will present Southwestern Law School’s 2006 Paul E. and Phyllis Treusch Public Service Lecture on "The Denial of Equal Justice When Life and Liberty are at Stake and the Responsibility of Lawyers to Respond."

"The lecture will address the influence of poverty and race on who goes to prison or is sentenced to death; the existence of debtors' prisons - even today - holding people who cannot afford to pay fines or fees; the failure of the courts to deal with issues of racial bias in every aspect of the criminal justice system from arrest to sentencing; the denial of lawyers for many people facing the loss of liberty; and the poor quality of legal assistance for many poor people are represented by court-appointed lawyers. The Supreme Court said in the 1950s that there can be no equal justice when the kind of justice that one receives depends upon the amount of money he or she has. And yet the kind of justice provided in the courts of the United States depends very much upon the amount of money a person has, and the situation is getting worse as more people - the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted and others who have no other support - are thrown into the criminal justice system. The credibility and legitimacy of the courts are at stake and lawyers with their monopoly on legal services have a responsibility to provide leadership to move us closer to realization of the promise of equal justice for all," said Bright.

Now president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, Bright served as director of the Center from 1982 to 2005. The Atlanta-based public interest project provides legal representation to individuals facing the death penalty and to prisoners challenging unconstitutional conditions throughout the South. He has personally represented death row inmates at trial, on appeal and in post-conviction proceedings since 1979. In one of his most high-profile cases, Amadeo v. Zant in 1988, he convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the death sentence due to racial discrimination.

An advocate for providing the poor with improved access to lawyers and the legal system, Bright has testified before committees of the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and the legislatures of Connecticut, Georgia and Texas. He served on an American Bar Association Task Force that made recommendations to Congress for enhanced fairness in the death sentencing process.

A prolific scholar, Bright's articles on criminal justice, corrections and judicial independence have appeared in law journals throughout the country, as well as magazines and newspapers. He has taught courses at Emory, Georgetown, Northeastern, and Florida State universities, and is currently a part-time instructor at Yale and Harvard law schools.

Bright has received numerous awards for his achievements, including the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award, the ACLU's Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty, and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Kutak-Dodds Prize. He received his B.A. in political science from the University of Kentucky, and his J.D. from the school's College of Law.

Established in 2000 with a gift from Professor Paul Treusch and his wife Phyllis, the Treusch Public Service Lecture series brings national leaders in the public interest field to campus to share their unique experiences and insights with the Southwestern community.