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As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of lethal injection, one man on death row in Georgia is living on borrowed time. Jack Alderman, who was sentenced to death in the mid-70s for murdering his wife, was set to be put to death by the state of Georgia on Oct. 19. But with the help of eleventh-hour appeals from attorneys at Clifford Chance — and a Supreme Court ruling in another case — Alderman’s execution was postponed by the Georgia Supreme Court just 27 hours before it was to be carried out. Other states, including Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, have effectively delayed executions by lethal injection until after the Supreme Court rules early next year on whether the method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Georgia had resisted this type of self-imposed moratorium, denying Alderman’s previous appeals. But after the Supreme Court issued a stay of execution to a Virginia inmate on Oct. 17, the Georgia court changed course. Attorneys in Clifford Chance’s D.C., New York, and London offices have been handling the case pro bono since March. Leiv Blad, managing partner of Clifford’s D.C. office, is leading the D.C. contingent. The firm was inspired to review Alderman’s conviction after Clifford Chance attorneys saw an art exhibit by Simone Sandelson, a British painter and the cousin of the firm’s London managing partner, Jeremy Sandelson. The paintings depict Alderman’s long incarceration and were based on two years’ worth of correspondence between the artist and Alderman, one of the longest-serving inmates on death row. “A civilized society should not keep people on death row for 33 years,” says Jeremy Sandelson. He adds that “most countries in the world have abolished the death penalty.”
Attila Berry can be contacted at [email protected].

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