Clifford Chance loses key death row battle

Clifford Chance has lost its pro bono battle to have Americas longest serving death row prisoners case overturned.

Jack Alderman, who had served more than 33-years on death row, was denied clemency for murder and was subsequently executed earlier this month (September) by lethal injection.

A team of lawyers from the magic circle firms New York and London offices had been acting for Alderman on a pro bono basis, seeking to have his 1975 sentence overturned.

Clifford Chance partner Jeremy Sandelson said Alderman’s death ends a long battle to prevent the execution of a man where there was real doubt surrounding both his original conviction and controversy regarding the use of lethal injection as a method of execution.

“We have battled for over a year to overturn Alderman’s original sentence. The execution of a man after 33 years on death row will strike many people, both for or against the death penalty, as unjust, futile and a travesty of justice, he added.

Alderman was originally sentenced to death for the murder of his wife Barbara and had always maintained his innocence.

Alderman’s co-defendant at the time, John Brown, who was allegedly a drug addict and alcoholic, confessed to the murder, then changed his story to implicate Alderman.

Brown claimed that he and Alderman killed Mrs Alderman together, and that Alderman promised to pay him for his role in the murder.

There was no forensic evidence and Alderman was convicted only as a result of statements provided by Brown.

Brown was sentenced to death but only served 12 years in prison as part of a deal he had made with prosecutors.

The case has been a major story in America and support for clemency came from a host of people including Pope Benedict XVI, politicians and lawyers from around the world.