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Kim K[1] is doing exactly what she needs to in the collective fight for criminal justice reform -- no more, and no less ... so says the famed defense attorney who inspired 'Just Mercy.'

We ran into Bryan Stevenson Saturday in NYC, where he was doing press for the new flick about his real-life role in exonerating Alabama death row inmate Walter McMillian in the '90s. Michael B. Jordan[2] plays him in the upcoming feature, opposite Jamie Foxx[3].

Seeing how he's a lifelong crusader for the cause, our photog asked what he made of Kim's efforts to help put a spotlight on prisoners[4] she feels have been railroaded by the system[5] ... including death row inmate Rodney Reed, who was recently granted a stay of execution[6].

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You'll recall ... Kim was with Rodney when he heard the news, and according to her -- he praised Jesus[7] in the moment. She and plenty of others had pled with Gov. Abbott to halt Rodney's execution and consider revisiting his case[8] in light of new evidence.

As far as Bryan's concerned, Kim's doing a good thing by using her platform to bring attention to these cases ... but he stops short of saying she's a glorified savior of any kind.

If anything, it sounds like he's downplaying how she'll be remembered -- and based on his careful answer, he doesn't seem to believe her work is on his level ... not yet, anyway.

Still, he gives credit where credit is due ... and makes a point to do the same with President Trump[9] as well. That doesn't mean

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