In a ceremony on September 24, Bryan Stevenson, professor of clinical law and director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was awarded a 2009 International Justice Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation. Stevenson shared the honor--and a $500,000 award--with the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), for "tireless advocacy of human rights for individuals belonging to oppressed groups that historically have not had an effective voice in, or access to, the justice system."
In a symposium that followed, Judge Bernice Donald, U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, led a discussion on "Access to Justice for Underserved Populations" during which Stevenson talked about providing access for a reasonable cost in capital cases. Video of the ceremony and symposium is available for viewing on the Gruber Foundation website.
The Gruber Prize is presented to individuals or organizations for contributions that advance the cause of justice as delivered through the legal system. Judge Thomas Buergenthal '60 of the International Court of Justice was one of the recipients of last year's Prize.
EJI represents indigent defendants, death row inmates, and juveniles who it believes have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system, and the organization has largely been responsible for reversals and reduced sentences in more than 75 death penalty cases. Stevenson’s share of the prize money will go into EJI’s budget to advance work representing people in prison who cannot afford legal assistance and challenging sentences of life imprisonment without parole imposed on young children throughout the United States.
"There is a world of problems around us. Not just in the criminal justice system but in so many parts of our world," Stevenson told students, faculty and alumni in his September 21 Public Interest Law Center Leaders in Public Service Series lecture, “Confronting Injustice: Race, Poverty and Psychic Harm.” "I want more than anything for you to hold on to the belief that you have the power to do something about the things you care about."
Watch the full video recording of Stevenson’s PILC lecture: