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Published December 08, 2012, 08:34 PM

Human rights leader says the legal system is broken

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Human Rights leaders say if you're poor or a minority, the U.S. Court system doesn't work in your favor.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Human Rights leaders say if you're poor or a minority, the U.S. Court system doesn't work in your favor.

Stephen Bright spoke in Fargo today, making his case for why the legal system is broken. Stephen Bright is a man prominent in the Civil Rights world, he's argued cases in front of the Supreme Court and serves as President of the Southern Center for Human Rights.

And Bright argues that for poor Americans and African Americans... the legal system isn't working.

Bright: "Race is influencing these decisions all the way through, so if you've got race and poverty, you're at a tremendous disadvantage."

At a speech in Fargo, Bright brought up many cases to illustrate how African Americans are cut out of the legal system and overly persecuted.

They make up less than 15-percent of the population, but 39 percent of prisoners.

Bright also says African Americans are often cut from juries.

Bright: "This system doesn't have any legitimacy or credibility when one part, 15% of the community, is just completely walled off from any participation."

And for poor Americans, who can't afford a lawyer, they're appointed one for trial.

But Bright says their defenders are too often sub-par and uninvolved, putting them at a huge disadvantage.

Judge Myron Bright: "He is in fact one of the great Civil Rights lawyers in the country. He's devoted his entire life to helping the poor, the disadvantaged."

Much of the room was filled with lawyers and law students and bright says by talking to them, maybe one day there can be a change in the legal system.

Bright: "The legal profession has a responsibility, it's got a monopoly on legal services. and so we have to take responsibility."

Bright was in town attending a ceremony for Judge Myron Bright, who received the Robert Feder Humanitarian award tonight.

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