Professor Michael Mears, a former public defender and leading expert on the death penalty in Georgia, was mentioned in high regard by former Chief Justice Norman Fletcher as he accepted the Gideon’s Promise Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights.
During Fletcher’s award acceptance, he addressed Steve Bright (Southern Center’s president and senior counsel) by saying,
Steve, I am going to shock you, and probably most everyone here, for I must now admit that your criticism of my death penalty decisions was justified. For with wisdom gained over the past 10 years, I am now convinced there is absolutely no justification for continuing to impose the sentence of death in this country. In 2001 when the Georgia Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision ended the use of electrocution and turned to lethal injection as the sole means of inflicting the death sentence, a colleague remarked that Mike Mears and Steve Bright would never be satisfied until the death penalty itself was totally abolished in Georgia and in this country. Time has proved that colleague to be right, and I thank God for Mike’s and Steve’s resolve. Our death penalty system is unsupportable.
To read more of his acceptance speech, click here.
Professor Michael Mears is an Associate Professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School where he teaches Evidence, Advanced Criminal Procedure, and Ethics. He is considered one of Georgia’s leading experts on the death penalty and is a frequent contributor on NPR and WPBA on the subject.