Top lawyer’s partner’s murder conviction overturned by Georgia top court
The Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the murder conviction of former Fisher & Phillips partner Claud “Tex” McIver III.
The court that convicted McIver in 2018 after he fired a shot that killed his wife did not instruct the jury on a lesser charge, the state’s top panel found.
McIver can be retried on the murder charge as well as the lesser manslaughter charge, depending on the court. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately return phone calls.
McIver was a 40-year veteran of labor and employment law and had represented high-profile Republican politicians in Georgia, including former Governor Nathan Deal and John Padgett, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia.
His wife, Diane, died in 2016 after a gun McIver was holding in the back of a car fired through a seat and into her back. Evidence presented at trial that provided “some support” for a jury charge on the lesser crime, the court said in its opinion.
Trial evidence showed that McIver was holding the gun to one side as it was unloaded; he had fallen asleep with the gun in his hand; and he shot when he woke up with a start.
Expert testimony revealed that McIver suffered from a sleep disorder that caused involuntary movements when awake.
“Based on this evidence, the jury could have concluded that the revolver was not deliberately or intentionally fired, but rather, as McIver suggests, discharged following his startled awakening,” the notice said. Supreme Court Presiding Justice Michael Boggs.
The court initially sentenced McIver to life in prison for felony murder, five years for influencing a witness, and a five-year suspended sentence for the crime committed with a firearm. The notice upheld the conviction for influencing a witness.
McIver argued on appeal that the trial court failed to instruct the jury on a lesser charge of manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner.
He was represented by Donald Samuel of Garland, Samuel & Loeb, who did not immediately return a phone message or email seeking comment on the notice.
The case is: McIver v. State, S22A0093.