Elected Member

Professor Stephen B. Bright

Lexington, KY
Yale Law School
University of Kentucky, BA
University of Kentucky College of Law, Juris Doctor

Stephen B. Bright is a visiting lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, where he has been teaching since 1993, and Visiting Associate Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

He served as director the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta from 1982 to 2005, and as its president and senior counsel from 2006 to 2016. Before joining the Southern Center, he was a legal services attorney in Appalachia; a public defender in Washington, D.C. and director of a law school clinical program in Washington.

He has tried capital cases before juries in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi and argued capital cases before many state and federal appellate courts, including four cases before the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of his client in each case. Three of the Supreme Court cases involved racial discrimination in jury selection and the fourth involved the right to a mental health expert for a poor person facing the death penalty.

Subjects of his litigation, teaching and writing include capital punishment, legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, racial discrimination in the criminal courts, judicial independence and conditions and practices in prisons and jails.. 

Bright received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award in 1998. The Daily Report, a legal newspaper in Georgia, named him “Agitator (and Newsmaker) of the Year” in 2003 for his contribution to bringing about creation of a public defender system in Georgia, and “Lawyer of the Year” in 2017 for his success in challenging racial discrimination before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Foster v. Chatman. His work has been the subject of two books,Proximity to Death (William S. McFeely, 1999), and Finding Life on Death Row (Katya Lezin, 1999), and a film, “Fighting for Life in the Death Belt” (Adam Elend and Jeff Marks, 2005). 

Professor Stephen B. Bright Image
Areas of Expertise
Capital Punishment (Criminal Law)