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Michael T. Shelby, a litigation partner in Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston and a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, died Tuesday. The Houston Chronicle reports that Shelby was found dead at his home of what authorities described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In response to questions about Shelby’s death, Harris County Sheriff’s Lt. John Martin, the public information officer, says the department received a call the morning of July 18 about a suicide in a block in northwest Houston. He says he cannot release the name of the person due to concern about notification of family members. According to voter registration records, Shelby lives in that block. “There’s no reason to believe this was anything but a suicide — no indication of foul play,” Martin says. Shelby, 47, had been ill with cancer. A former Harris County assistant district attorney and longtime federal prosecutor, Shelby became U.S. attorney in Houston in 2001. He left the job in 2005 to join Fulbright, where he was the partner in charge of the firm’s nationwide white-collar crime defense practice. At the time, he said he left public service to move to a more lucrative job at Fulbright because he wanted to be able to afford to send his two daughters to the colleges of their choice. [See "Over and Out," Texas Lawyer, May 23, 2005, page 3.] “The partners and employees at Fulbright & Jaworski are deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Shelby,” Steven B. Pfeiffer, chairman of Fulbright’s executive committee says in a written statement. “Michael dedicated his life to public service and making sure the law was upheld. His honorable life and career is one to be emulated by others.” Stephen Dillard, a partner in Fulbright in Houston who is head of the litigation department, says Shelby made a substantial contribution during his short tenure at the firm. “From the moment he set foot in here, he made things happen. He was a magnet for attracting business, not just because of his skills as a lawyer, but his personality. He had a tremendous zest and enthusiasm,” Dillard says. Dillard says Shelby worked on corporate investigations and corporate governance issues. Due to his illness, he was not able to come into the office for several months, but did work from home, Dillard says. “He would come in on occasion, but that ended three or four months ago as his condition continued to deteriorate.” Don DeGabrielle, Shelby’s successor as U.S. attorney, says Shelby was “an outstanding advocate who represented the interests of the United States as effectively as any litigator with whom I’ve been associated.” He says Shelby was a dynamic public speaker and had a quick wit, a keen intellect, a wonderful sense of humor, and the ability to develop a remarkable rapport with jurors, witnesses and victims. Shelby, who grew up in Houston, attended Texas A&M University and graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves, and served in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm, and later in Bosnia. After spending five years at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1989, where he prosecuted public corruption, organized crime and environmental cases. He moved to Phoenix in 1997, and then returned to Houston in 2001 to take on the chief prosecutor job in the Southern District. As U.S. attorney, he served on the president’s Corporate Fraud Task Force, but his office missed out on one of the nation’s biggest corporate fraud scandals after he recused his office from prosecuting crimes against individuals who worked at Houston’s Enron Corp.

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