For 29 years he worked at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, the last 17 as Co-coordinator of the Capital Litigation Unit. He was primarily responsible for the gathering and presentation of mitigation evidence in capital cases. From 1989 –1995, he served as the Chief of the Juvenile Division. In 2002, he took a two year leave of absence to coordinate the Juvenile Death Penalty Initiative, a project ending with his oversight of the drafting and filing of amicus briefs in Roper v Simmons.
Harper has lectured nationally and internationally on both juvenile and death penalty issues. He worked on the American Bar Association’s American Bar Association’s Guidelines Advisory Committee and participated in the revision of ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases. He has consulted with and advised the military defense team in case involving a child soldier in Guantanamo under the Military Commissions Act — USA v Omar Ahmed Khadr and has consulted in the death penalty cases of Abdul Kabir v Quarterman and Brewer Quarterman.
In 1998, he received the American Bar Association’s Livingston Hall Juvenile Justice Award for “outstanding dedication and advocacy on behalf of delinquent youth.” In 2005, he received the Southern Center for Human Rights’ Frederick Douglass Award for “his demonstrated brilliance and tenacity in defense of human rights in the criminal justice system and in 2011 the James “Jim” Evans Slater Award for “your outstanding representation of indigent persons charged with capital crimes, and your relentless pursuit of justice” presented by the Florida Public Defender Association.
- Professor Harper Awarded 2020 Juvenile Law Center’s Leadership Prize
- Professor Harper quoted in the Orlando Sentinel
- Professor Harper Quoted in Florida Phoeinx
- Professor Harper Quoted in the Miami Herald
- Professor Harper Interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and The Miami Herald
- Professor Stephen k. Harper Quoted in Florida Times-Union
- Prof. Harper Provides Insight on New Death Penalty Fix
- A final defense: FIU Law Clinic helps educate lawyers handling death penalty cases
- FCCR Director Stephen Harper discusses ineffective counsel to Folio Weekly