Stephen B. Bright (Former Director & President of Southern Center for Human Rights)
has built a legacy in the public defense arena. After starting his career as a legal aid attorney in Appalachia, then working at the storied Public Defender Service in D.C., Bright took over as director of the Southern Center for Human Rights. Under his leadership, the Southern Center became one of the most respected legal organizations in the country.
Bright is one of the most prominent critics of the American criminal system, especially on issues surrounding a defendant's right to effective counsel, and the death penalty. He has argued four cases in front of the Supreme Court, achieving three reversals of death sentences due to racial discrimination in jury selection.
In this interview, Bright speaks with us about the importance of establishing independent public defender offices, how hard it is to prove ineffective assistance of counsel under the current Strickland standard, the death penalty, prisoner's rights, and legal education. In addition, we have included his speech at the University of Texas School of Law, including a wonderful introduction from Raoul Schonemann, one of the Directors of the school's outstanding Capital Punishment Clinic.