The Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the felony conviction of former Fisher & Phillips partner Claud “Tex” McIver III.
The court that convicted McIver in 2018 after firing a shot that killed his wife failed to inform the jury of a lesser charge, the state’s top panel found.
McIver is eligible for retrial on the felony murder charge as well as the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, according to the court. The Fulton County Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to calls.
A 40-year labor and employment law veteran, McIver had represented high-profile Republican politicians in Georgia, including former Gov. Nathan Deal and John Padgett, former leader of the Georgia Republican Party.
His wife Diane died in 2016 after a gun McIver was holding in the back of a car shot through a seat and into her back. Evidence presented at the trial that provided “some support” for a jury indictment of the lesser crime, the court said in its statement.
Court evidence showed that McIver held the gun sideways when firing; he had slept with the gun in his hand; and it fired as he woke startled.
Expert testimony revealed that McIver suffered from a sleep disorder that caused involuntary movements when waking up.
“From this evidence the jury could have concluded that the revolver was not fired intentionally or intentionally but, as McIver suggests, was fired in response to being startled,” said Chief Justice Michael Boggs in the Supreme Court’s opinion.
The court originally sentenced McIver to life in prison for felony murder, five years for tampering with a witness, and five years suspended for gun crime. The report confirmed the conviction for influencing a witness.
McIver argued on appeal that the trial court unlawfully failed to instruct the jury on a lesser charge, involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act.
He was represented by Donald Samuel of Garland, Samuel & Loeb, who did not immediately return a phone message or email asking for comment on the statement.
The case is: McIver v. The State, S22A0093.