Gregory Bright (born 1954) is a New Orleans native who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1974 at the age of 20. He was sentenced to life without parole, served at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. After several years of appeals, Mr. Bright was granted a new trial in 2001 on the grounds that the prosecution had withheld evidence from the defense in his previous trial. On June 24, 2003, after 27 ½ years in prison for a crime they did not commit, Mr. Bright and Earl Truvia were both released after the Orleans Parish district attorney dismissed all charges. When Bright was released from prison, the State of Louisiana only provided a US$10 check and garbage bags full of legal paperwork.
Bright speaks around the country about his wrongful incarceration and life since prison. He can also be seen on HBO’s Tremé and TNT’s Memphis Beat.
Never Fight A Shark In Water: The Wrongful Conviction of Gregory Bright is an original dramatic production written by NOCCA Creative Writing Chair Lara Naughton. Never Fight a Shark in Water is based entirely on the words and recollections of Gregory Bright who spent 27 ½ years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The play, performed by Bright himself, tells the remarkable story of Bright’s wrongful conviction and exoneration, and explores the universal experiences of anger, forgiveness and compassion. It exposes the criminal justice system failures that lead to wrongful convictions and challenges us to rethink our understanding of freedom. St Augustine had the opportunity to see this play this last Friday (Feb. 12th) at the Ringhaver Student Center at Flagler in the Virginia Room, and First Coast.TV was there.
Lara Naughton has taught students K-12 as well as adults. As a writer and documentarian, she assists individuals who wish to tell their own stories, and has led writing workshops with people who have faced challenging circumstances including homelessness, HIV/AIDS, wrongful conviction, incarceration, and torture. Her writing has appeared in The Sun, Salon, and on stages across the country. Her one-man documentary stage play, Never Fight a Shark in Water, about the wrongful conviction of Gregory Bright, is currently being performed by Bright himself.