Georgia court dismisses ex-Fisher & Phillips attorney’s murder conviction

  • Claud “Tex” McIver is serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife Diane
  • Georgia Supreme Court says jurors should have been allowed to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter

June 30 – Georgia’s Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the murder conviction of former Fisher & Phillips partner Claud “Tex” McIver for the 2016 murder of his wife, finding jurors should have been allowed to consider a charge less against him.

In 2018, an Atlanta jury found McIver, 79, guilty of murder and other charges, and a judge soon after sentenced him to life in prison.

The Georgia Supreme Court decision overturned the conviction for murder as well as the conviction for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, but upheld McIver’s conviction for influencing a witness.

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A spokesperson for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted McIver, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, including on whether the office would try the case again.

McIver had asserted his innocence and claimed to have accidentally shot Diane McIver in the back while in a car driven by his wife’s close friend in September 2016, according to Thursday’s opinion.

Prosecutors alleged that the former Atlanta labor and employment attorney had a financial motivation to kill Diane, a real estate company executive, according to the ruling. They presented evidence at trial which they said indicated he had benefited financially from her death.

McIver’s lawyers said in a joint statement to Reuters they were “pleased” with Thursday’s decision. They said McIver was denied a fair trial because the jury had no opportunity to find the shooting was entirely negligent.

Atlanta defense attorney Bruce Harvey is representing McIver, along with two attorneys from the law firm Garland, Samuel & Loeb, Amanda Clark Palmer and Donald Samuel.

“We look forward to showing the next jury that he is not guilty of murder,” they said.

In Thursday’s ruling, Presiding Judge Michael Boggs said the jury should have been allowed to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter, finding that certain evidence presented at trial could have led the jury to convict on that lesser charge at the place.

Georgia’s high court found that the evidence shared with the jury on McIver’s financial motivation was “thin” and that jurors were deprived of a “full instruction” on the degrees of culpability between accidental and felony murder.

(Adds comment from attorneys representing McIver).

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Jacqueline Thomson

Thomson Reuters

Washington, DC-based Jacqueline Thomsen covers legal news related to politics, the courts, and the legal profession. Follow her on Twitter at @jacq_thomsen and email her at jacqueline.thomsen@thomsonreuters.com.

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