Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) of Montgomery, Ala., and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) of Budapest, Hungary, will share the 2009 Gruber Foundation Justice Prize of $500,000.
The international prize awarded by The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation will be presented in a ceremony Thursday, Sept. 24, at noon in the Moot Court Room of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Stevenson and the ERRC are being honored for “their 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,” the Foundation said.
Foundation President Patricia Murphy Gruber will award the prizes following remarks about the program by Giuseppe Bisconti of Rome, Italy, former president of the International Law Association and a member of the prize selection advisory board. Stevenson will receive his prize and ERRC managing director Robert Kushen and deputy director Isabela Mihalache will receive the ERRC prize.
Following the presentations, U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald of the Western District of Tennessee will moderate a panel discussion by the prize recipients.
Stevenson’s organization, the EJI, represents indigent defendants, death row inmates and juveniles who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. With his staff, Stevenson has largely been responsible for reversals and reduced sentences in more than 75 death penalty cases. He has provided an effective training and consulting resource for counsel representing death row inmates and is spearheading litigation in 19 states to get a fair review of sentencing and parole-eligible re-sentencing.
Stevenson, who resides in Montgomery, has been recognized consistently by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. A graduate of Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, he is a member of the New York University Law School faculty. His representation of condemned prisoners has won him such awards as the MacArthur Fellowship Award, the Reebok Human Rights Award, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty and the American Bar Association Wisdom Award.
The ERRC is an international public interest law organization that combats anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma peoples in Europe. It has set in motion more than 500 court cases in 15 countries to bring to justice those who have discriminated against Romani individuals in education, housing, employment, healthcare and other areas, or have committed violence against them. It has secured more than two million euro in compensation for Romani individuals for the abuse they suffered and the subsequent failure of their respective governments to ensure justice.
The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation created its International Prize Program to recognize excellence in science and humanities by highlighting five fields that create a better world: cosmology, genetics, neuroscience, justice and women’s rights. Each prize is given annually, and carries an unrestricted cash prize of $500,000 and a gold medal. The Foundation has offices in New York, N.Y., and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.