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KNOXVILLE — One of the best known and well-respected human rights advocates in the country will visit the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to talk about how poverty and race affect the criminal justice system.

Stephen Bright, a visiting law professor at Yale University, will present “The Intersection of Race and Poverty in Criminal Justice” at noon on Monday, Sept. 27, in room 132 of the College of Law. The event is free and open to the public.

“There is no person better qualified than Steve Bright to address the issues of race and poverty and how they affect and influence our nation’s criminal justice system,” said Penny White, director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, which is hosting the event.

Bright is the center’s Advocate in Residence and the Summers-Wyatt Lecturer; he will visit at the College of Law for the semester. As part of his visit, Bright will teach the Wrongful Convictions seminar along with Professor Dwight Aarons. He also will be providing guest lectures in several classes and working with students and instructors in the college’s Innocence Clinic.

Bright serves as the president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, an organization that deals with human rights in the criminal justice and prison systems. He has represented people facing the death penalty at trials and on appeals and prisoners in challenges to inhumane conditions and practices.

During his legal career, Bright has argued and won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, both involving racial discrimination in jury composition. Bright’s work and the work of the Southern Center for Human Rights have been the subject of a documentary film, “Finding for Life in the Death Belt,” and two books, “Proximity to Death” and “Finding Life on Death Row.”

The College of Law’s Innocence Clinic gives students the opportunity to help free Tennessee inmates who have provable claims of factual innocence with the help of a supervising attorney. They look at a range of cases, some involving crimes such as rape or even murder where people may be facing the death penalty.

The Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution focuses on special courses about trial and appellate advocacy and alternative dispute resolution for students interested in litigation. For more information, visit

For more information about the Southern Center for Human Rights, visit


Kristi Hintz, UT Media Relations, (865-974-3993,

Tanya Brown, College of Law Director of Communications, (865-974-6788,