It’s not often you see a district attorney take the witness stand and face off against his own county’s sheriff.
But that’s exactly what happened Monday in the Claud “Tex” McIver case.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said the decision by the sheriff’s office to move McIver to a jail in Alpharetta amounted to special treatment for the prominent Atlanta attorney charged with killing his wife.
The legal battle between Howard and county Sheriff Ted Jackson is the latest strange twist in a case that has been filled with them.
After three hours of testimony Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney held off on ruling on where McIver should be held.
Jackson’s office moved the 74-year-old from the jail in Atlanta about a week ago.
Howard’s office filed a motion objecting to the move.
Taking the stand in Fulton County Superior Court, Howard raised concerns that the Alpharetta facility did not have the capacity to videotape visits with inmates. This, he said, could allow McIver to further his efforts to influence witnesses.
“I believe this defendant is dangerous,” Howard said. “Even after the court ordered him (to not have any weapons) he had a weapon. He has been formally charged with intimidating witnesses.”
He added, “I believe placing him in the Alpharetta jail increased his ability to do that.”
Fulton’s Chief Jailer Col. Mark Adger told the court that that McIver had been housed in a medical section of the Atlanta jail, not for any medical issue, but to protect him. He was moved to Alpharetta to free up that space for a sick inmate, he added.
Sheriff Jackson, responding with his own motion, said the move represents no special treatment, and that all phone calls in the Alpharetta facility are all recorded. He acknowledged that the jail has no system to video-record personal visits with inmates, but said such visits are conducted in a visitation booth with both parties separated by a glass partition.
McIver’s attorney, Stephen Maples, said neither McIver nor his legal team knew about the move in advance.
McIver faces charges of malice murder and influencing witnesses in the death of his wife last September. The couple were riding in their SUV near Piedmont Park when McIver shot Diane McIver in the back as she sat in the front seat. He has maintained it was an accident.
McBurney made clear that he believes the decision on where to house an inmate stands with the sheriff.
He added that “I have heard no testimony to discredit” that decision.
McIver’s trial is slated to begin Oct. 30.
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