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Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Georgia's Lethal Injection Protocols

PRESS ADVISORY

Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Georgia's Lethal Injection Protocols

May 5, 2008

Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced that late Friday afternoon Judge Beverly Martin, a federal district judge in the Northern District of Georgia, had rejected Jack Alderman’s latest attempt to avoid execution for the 1974 heinous murder for hire of his wife.  Alderman had challenged the procedures used by the State of Georgia in carrying out executions, arguing that the protocols in Georgia for carrying out lethal injections amounted to cruel and unusual punishment which should be prohibited under the federal Constitution’s 8th Amendment.

The federal court rejected that argument, citing to the United States Supreme Court’s recent April 16 decision in Baze v. Rees, a case out of Kentucky which challenged Kentucky’s lethal injection protocols.  Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices rejected Baze’s contention that the lethal injection protocol in Kentucky amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.  Here, the federal court in Alderman found that Georgia’s protocols represented no more “substantial risk” than did Kentucky’s protocols, and went further in finding that the officials responsible for carrying out executions in Georgia are “at least as qualified, if not more qualified, than the execution team” in Kentucky.  The federal court found that alternatively, the statute of limitations would bar Alderman’s claims even if he had not lost the case on the merits.

A copy of the order rejecting Alderman’s latest attempt to avoid execution can be found here.

A synopsis of the facts which led to Alderman’s death sentence, including details on Alderman’s twin motives of avoiding a divorce settlement and receiving life insurance proceeds and details on how Alderman and his hired killer alternatively beat, suffocated, strangled and then drowned the victim during her murder can be found here.

Alderman was originally scheduled to be executed on October 19, 2007, but the Georgia Supreme Court granted a last minute stay of execution citing the United States Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments in the case involving Kentucky’s execution protocols, Baze v. Rees.  Upon receiving the order from the United States Supreme Court rejecting the cruel and unusual punishment claims made in Baze, Attorney General Baker moved that same day, April 16, 2008, for the Georgia Supreme Court to dissolve its stay so that a new execution date could be set in Alderman.  As of today, the Georgia Supreme Court has not ruled on the state’s motion to remove the stay of execution.